AirTalk for August 26, 2014

Internal Report: Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant needs testing for earthquake safety

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Mark Ralson/AFP/Getty Images

An aerial view of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant - which sits on the edge of the Pacific Ocean at Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo County, California on March 17, 2011.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and one of its former nuclear inspectors have a big disagreement.

Dr. Michael Peck, the NRC’s former senior resident inspector at Diablo Canyon Power Plant, questions in his 42 page Differing Professional Opinion (DPO), the safety of the nuclear reactors. He says they could suffer from more than a minimal likelihood of a malfunction in structure and system should a big earthquake hit near the area. According to Friends of the Earth, the organization that published Dr. Peck’s DPO, this could potentially put hundreds of thousands of people that live within 50 miles of the reactor at risk, and even more if a radioactive plume would blow towards Southern California.

But, Blair Jones, spokesperson for Pacific, Gas and Electric (PG&E), the company that operates the reactors, said the NRC during their regular inspections, continues to find the facility, located on the central coast of California, to be seismically safe. Despite the filing of the DPO, over one year ago, the NRC has not, as of yet, given their ruling on Peck’s report.

Does Dr. Peck have a point -- is it likely the reactors would cause damage if hit with a high magnitude quake? Or, has the NRC been as diligent as PG&E claims, and therefore Diablo Canyon Power Plant is safe?

Guests:

Michael Blood, Reporter for the Associated Press

Damon Moglen, Senior Nuclear Advisor at Friends of the Earth, the organization that published Dr. Michael Peck’s critical 42 page “Differing Professional Opinion.”


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