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Evening sets on the San Onofre atomic power plant in northern San Diego County, south of San Clemente, California.
Diablo Canyon Power Plant, located in San Luis Obispo County right along the Pacific Coast, contains two nuclear reactors and is built to withstand a 7.5 magnitude earthquake. San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, located in San Diego County right along the Pacific coast, contains two reactors and was built to withstand a 7.0 quake. As the world watches the terrible aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan, and specifically the possible meltdowns of several nuclear reactors that were directly in the path of the tsunami wave, it’s natural to ask about the safety systems in place for California’s nuclear facilities. Both of California’s nuclear plants are getting up there in age and in both locations new fault lines have been discovered since the plants were originally constructed. What are the safety procedures in place at Diablo Canyon and San Onofre and is there any amount of engineering that can plan for the multitude of disaster scenarios that could cripple a nuclear reactor? What will the Japanese earthquake mean for the future of nuclear reactor construction across this country?
Daniel Hirsch, president of Committee to Bridge the Gap, a non-profit nuclear policy organization that focuses on nuclear safety, waste disposal, and proliferation