- A confidential filing with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) by former Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant on-site inspector Michael Peck recommends shutting down the California plant until its two reactors are shown to be capable of withstanding earthquake forces that were not anticipated when the facility was built, according to the Associated Press.
- Peck wrote it is unsafe to assume Diablo Canyon can stand up to potential seismic forces as they are understood since the 2008 discovery of the Shoreline fault.
- Peck formally objected to his supervisors' 2012 decision to keep the plant operational without knowing whether the plant could withstand such forces. Peck called for PG&E to be cited for violating the safety standards, but his supervisors did not agree, so he filed an objection with the NRC.
The recent magnitude-6 earthquake in Northern California brought Peck's recommendation to the fore.
Pacific Gas and Electric Co., which owns and operates Diablo Canyon, argues the 1,122 megawatt unit 1, which went online in 1985, and the 1,118 megawatt unit 2, which went online in 1986, have passed thorough NRC analysis and are "seismically safe" since being retrofitted during construction in the 1970s.
Environmentalists argue the plant's half million people in a 50-mile radius require higher standards, and Peck cited 2011 PG&E research that determined any of three nearby faults is capable of producing significantly more “peak ground acceleration” than was expected in the 1970s.
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA), a supporter of the NRC’s directive to U.S. nuclear plants to reevaluate seismic risks by March 2015 following the 2011 magnitude-9 earthquake, tsunami, and meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant, will hold hearings on why Peck’s July 2013 filing has gone unanswered.
Diablo Canyon is California’s only nuclear plant since the San Onfre facility was found unsafe and shuttered last year.