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NRC says Diablo Canyon is safe — case closed?

Is Diablo Canyon destined for disaster? Well, according to a story by Suzanne Rust of California Watch published by the San Francisco Chronicle, that all depends on which government agency you believe.

According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (and the utility that owns the plant, Pacific Gas & Electric Co.), the plant is safe. Totally safe. So safe, the NRC insists, that further studies are unwarranted.

However, seismologists with the United States Geological Survey aren’t quite so certain. A recently discovered fault, along with new research suggesting that another fault may be much longer, and thus more potentially powerful than scientists have thus far determined, raises the chance of a seismic event larger than what the plant was designed to survive.

That might present something of a problem for the 45,000 residents of the city of San Luis Obispo, and the 19,000 students at Cal Poly, both within 15 miles.

Just four months after the Fukushima Daiichi explosions and meltdowns, the NRC’s certainty is troubling. Recent reports show that radioactive material is reportedly leaking from older reactors and infiltrating the nation’s aquifers and officials responding to radiation exposure by weakening standards whenever industry surpassed older limits, the agency’s credibility is sinking to new lows.

If the NRC was more than a semi-autonomous division of the industry it allegedly regulates, one would expect a response other than the bureaucratic version of ‘move along folks — nothing to see here.’  With so much of the Obama administration’s foreign and economic policy derived from the White House’s previous occupant, it’s surprising that no one has yet demanded caution by uttering the phrase, “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”


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