County may seek a spot on quake panel

The county may soon have its own eyes and ears on a key committee studying earthquake faults related to the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

Emergency Services Director Ron Alsop will ask the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to send a letter to the state Public Utilities Commission asking the agency to make room for a county representative on the peer review committee.

Should the county send the letter and the commission agree, a scientist selected by the county would sit on the independent review panel “for the purpose of conducting a peer review of PG&E seismic studies.”

The company, which owns and operates the Diablo Canyon plant, is conducting seismic studies there, a task that has become more urgent because of the tragedy at Fukushima, Japan, earlier this year.

“Having a county representative on the board of the independent review peer panel will help ensure the interests and concerns of our citizens,” Alsop wrote in a staff report.

He told The Tribune that the county wants direct input into the committee’s discussions, as well as evaluation of its work.

Alsop said the county needs to look for “a pretty specialized seismologist” to represent it. Supervisor Bruce Gibson, a geophysicist by profession, will help in that search.

Approximately 145,000 people live within the Diablo Canyon Emergency Planning Zone.