Environmentalists file petition to idle California's Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant

The Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant stands in Avila Beach, California, U.S., on Friday, March 30, 2012.
The Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant stands in Avila Beach, California, U.S., on Friday, March 30, 2012. David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

An environmental group asked federal regulators Tuesday to idle a California nuclear plant to review potential earthquake risks.

Friends of the Earth — an advocacy group critical of the nuclear power industry — filed a petition with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission asking for a hearing and charging the Diablo Canyon plant is violating its operating license.

Nearby earthquake faults pose "a serious safety risk to the public and the environment," the 92-page petition said.

The NRC, which oversees the nation's commercial nuclear power industry, and Diablo Canyon owner Pacific Gas and Electric Co., have said the nearly three-decade-old reactors, which produce enough electricity for more than 3 million people annually, are safe and that the facility complies with its operating license, including earthquake safety standards. The NRC and PG&E did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

The group argues the reactors located between Los Angeles and San Francisco should remain closed until a rigorous safety review is completed and PG&E amends its federal license.

The petition was filed after The Associated Press disclosed Monday that a federal nuclear expert is urging the NRC to shut down the seaside plant until it can determine whether its reactors can withstand shaking from nearby faults.

Following the AP report, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee announced it would hold hearings into how the NRC has handled that recommendation.

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