dirtsailor2003 (CC-BY-ND)

The Diablo Canyon Power Plant sits on the edge of the Pacific Ocean between Los Angeles and San Francisco. More significantly, it is nestled in a thicket of fault lines, some only recently discovered.

California’s only active power plant, Diablo has two reactors and is operated by Pacific Gas & Electric.

Activists are concerned that an earthquake at Diablo, which was built only 45 miles from the San Andreas Fault and is closer to numerous other fissures in the Earth’s crust, could lead to a devastating nuclear disaster.

According to the San Luis Obispo Tribune, the plant is designed to withstand a magnitude 7.5 earthquake. California is long overdue for a seismic event known as “the big one” that should exceed that magnitude.

Regardless, critics challenge PG&E’s management of the plant and question whether that number is realistic. Harvey Wasserman, writing in EcoWatch, has raised numerous doubts about Diablo’s safety. In addition to questionable earthquake safety, Wasserman alleges that the plant is at risk of fire.


Diablo Canyon, writes David Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists, “has never, ever complied with fire safety regulations, not even for a second by mistake.”

“The one-two punch of earthquake/tsunami caused Fukushima,” Lochbaum wrote in an email to me.

“A one-two punch of earthquake/fire could cause Diablo Canyon.”

But, says Lochbaum, “It can’t be an accident. Not when the company and its alleged regulator both know that the plant does not met earthquake and fire safety regulations.

“That cannot cause an accident. Criminal negligence perhaps. At least malicious mayhem. But not an accident.”

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