A person need only ask two questions to decide whether Diablo Canyon Power Plant should be relicensed: “Is it possible for a major accident to happen?” and “Is an accident affordable?”
When you consider the possibility of terrorism, the potential for an earthquake that exceeds the plant’s design basis, Fukushima’s lesson that accidents can exceed worst-case scenarios and the basic fact that designing a 100 percent fail-safe, foolproof system isn’t possible — the answer to the first question is, “Yes, a major accident can happen.”
Fukushima also shows the answer to the second question is, “No, we can’t afford it.” Within an 18-mile radius of the Fukushima plant, much of the land and many towns are uninhabitable. This means a serious accident at Diablo could shut down the county’s $20-billion-a-year economy indefinitely and render $40 billion in property value worthless overnight. The nuclear industry’s liability is limited to $12 billion. Congress would have to cover the rest, but we all know that’s unlikely. Even more importantly, no dollar amount can compensate for the unique natural resources and quality of life we enjoy on the Central Coast. Diablo should not be relicensed because the price of failure is too high.