Former Diablo Canyon inspector urges shut down

August 27, 2014

diabloA former federal inspector at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant has asked regulators to shut down the plant until it can be determined if it can withstand an earthquake of the Central Coast.

In a confidential July 2013 document that was released on Monday, Michael Peck stated his concerns to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Peck contends it is unsafe to continue operating Diablo Canyon without further evaluation of nearby faults and earthquake safety.

When the plant was first permitted in 1967, it was not required to have an earthquake emergency response plan. However, since then two faults have been discovered near the plant prompting earthquake procedures to be put in place.

Before the plant was put into operation, after the discovery of the Hosgri Fault in 1971 by Shell Oil, a long and contentious battle between the state and PG&E ensued raising the cost of construction, first estimated at $320 million, by over $5 billion. As a result of finding the Hosgri Fault, Diablo’s design was changed and the plant was retrofitted to withstand a magnitude 7.5 earthquake.

In 1985, the $5.7 billion plant began producing energy.

In 2008, a second fault dubbed the Shoreline Fault was discovered less than a mile from the plant by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) geologist Jeanne Hardebeck using data from USGS and PG&E monitors.

Even though the Nuclear Regulatory Commission concluded that Diablo Canyon’s design would withstand a potential earthquake on the Shoreline Fault, “The fault’s major characteristics are largely unknown, e.g., its length, proximity to the plant and relationship to the Hosgri Fault (whether an earthquake beginning on the Hosgri Fault could continue on the Shoreline Fault, or vice versa, causing a larger earthquake than if either fault broke on its own), and whether this fault or fault displays could extend beneath the plant,” a California Energy Commission research report says.

In his 2013 document, Peck says that the plant’s license needs to be amended because of the discovery of the Shoreline Fault. He also questioned the methodology used to analyze earthquake risks associated with the fault.

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23 Comments

  1. hijinks says:

    One of the reasons Diablo cost so much was because the earthquake retrofit had to be done twice. The geniuses at PG&E somehow read the blueprints backwards, built the retrofit backwards, then when that was discovered, had to rip it all out and do it in the correct direction. That was several billion $$ down the drain.

    Had PG&E not messed around so much, this retrofit would never have been needed. The Hosgri fault was discovered shortly after construction began. Instead of stopping or even slowing down, while re-evaluating the necessary changes to their design, PG& E spent more than a year and countless ratepayer dollars fighting with the US Geological Survey about the maximum magnitude earthquake possible from the fault, contending without much evidence that USGS’s estimate was too high — all the while continuing the build the plant full speed ahead when the plant hadn’t been designed for any nearby fault at all.

    Oh, and remember why this plant ended up at Diablo? PG&E’s big nuke was going to be on the end of Bodega Head, in N Cal. They dug a foundation hole, and right there, in the hole, was the San Andreas Fault. Who’da thunk it? PG&E insisted that was no cause for concern. Fortunately, others had more commonsense, and required the plant site to be abandoned. That’s how they ended up here — we’re not on the San Andreas, so all was peachy.

    It was an amazing story of corporate arrogance. So many dollars wasted — but, heck, they got to pass all that along to us ratepayers, so why worry.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 5

  2. Messkit says:

    OK…Mr. Peck learned of the new fault lines in 2008, when PG&E informed the NRC of them.

    2008!!! PG&E told the NRC of NEW fault lines!!!

    PG&E TOLD THE NRC OF THE NEW EARTHQUAKE FAULTS IN 2008, and Mr. Peck failed to be concerned THEN.

    It wasn’t until 2013, that Mr. Peck….who had been the senior inspector at Diablo….wrote this new report about the horrendous dangers of the plant, and we’re all gonna die.

    The report, was an internal review and not available to the public, was “somehow” leaked by the Friends Of The Earth environmental wacko club, or team, or buddies, or group, or some such pile of ignorance.

    Somehow leaked to an bunch of nuts who have ONE thing on their mind; the destruction of everything built or used by mankind.

    Yeah. I think I’ll sit this emergency out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 11

    • diamond says:

      As stated, the ( Former ) inspector. I’m sure, if then he would have recommend closing the Diablo site;

      #1 He would be demoted or terminated for some reason having noooothing to do with his report, as corporations do.

      #2 PG&E would have buried it like the GM ignition switch cover up, because money trumps lives in the corporate world.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 9

      • Myself says:

        It looks like the former inspector wasn’t so worried about it then or he would have blown the whistle,so now he’s worried about it,he’s a looser.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 8

    • catdude says:

      Well Messkit, if you click on the link below provided by SnakePliskin, you will see that your assertion is nonsense….homework?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5

      • Messkit says:

        Really? Which assertion? The fact that he was there for 5 years, and we never heard of him? The fact that PG&E told the NRC about the new faults in 2008 (whaaat??? pg&e told the nrc of some new evil terrible disaster in the making new fault line…and didn’t try to cover it up or poo poo it away??) The fact that Mr. Peck didn’t write anything about this situation (that we know of) until 2013? That a far left enviro-wacko group…and ONLY a far left enviro-wacko group… some how, some way, oddly and strangely and possibly criminally, was given a non-public report that they quickly blurted out to the world via the AP?

        Or the fact that I used Mr. SnakePliskins own post to bolster my statements?

        Everything prior to Mr. Peck’s latest revelation, we already know about.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

        • catdude says:

          Did you read the link? I thought not….

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

          • Messkit says:

            Which link? The TV station report, which says nothing different or new?

            The Avila Hot Springs link, which takes me to a commercial site for the Avila Hot Springs?

            Or the extremely biased left wing wacko link, that says nothing that SnakePliskin didn’t already?

            Sorry catdude dude, but there is nothing new here that we haven’t heard for 40 years……despite the assurances of every central coast hippy that we are all gonna die before 1984….err, 1986…..wait..1990…no, damn….umm…2010…….

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  3. diamond says:

    Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant was originally designed to withstand a 6.75 magnitude earthquake four faults, including the nearby San Andreas and Hosgri faults.

    Somehow PG&E waved a magic publicity wand and was later upgraded to supposedly withstand a 7.5 magnitude quake. It has seismic monitoring and a safety system designed to shut it down promptly in the event of significant earthquake. So did Fukushima

    The Fukushima plant was built to withstand a quake up to magnitude 7.9. The quake that caused it’s demise was a 6.6.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 7

    • r0y says:

      I thought Fukushima’s demise was brought about by the flooding from the tsunami? Albeit, it was caused by an earthquake, but it is dishonest to say that the plant was built to withstand an earthquake and infer that it failed, when the earthquake did not cause the demise.

      A better argument would be: what was their plan for tsunami / tidal waves? (regardless of how or why the waves may occur). Apples to Oranges.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3

      • diamond says:

        Yes, I agree, what is the plan for tsunami? I’m sure the P&GE people have a theoretic “Failsafe” Tsunami plan. However not apples to oranges as Diablo sits on the sea cliffs, on a fault line. Bottom line is they are all deemed safe until they fail. Then begins the what went wrong story.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. diamond says:

    Fukushima was also labeled “safe”. They are ALL labeled safe, until they fail. When they fail, it’s a catastrophe. We have safe sources of energy at our disposal, so why continue to take a chance, utilizing energy sources that will cause mass death and destruction. All of these potentially fatal sites should be closed. If, or when Diablo destructs, you would all have to evacuate the surrounding areas for decades? Century’s? Goodbye home & all of your belongings. That’s if you even survive, or, will you and your family be exposed and die a slow radiation death? After the Fukushima disaster, the American Embassy recommended that Americans within 50 miles of the Fukushima reactors evacuate. The Japanese government, trying to minimize the event, only recommended 20 mile to it’s people. Radiation from the Japan fallout has crossed the ocean into America. 6,314 miles. Would you stay in San Luis Obispo county? Do research on the aftermath (so Far) of other nuclear disasters. The built in safety system that the power companies tell you will keep you safe, were also in Japan. They failed. We are the twin of Fukushima. On a fault line. on the cliffs of the ocean. The main stream media has not been covering the ongoing effects of the ocean contamination and the effects from the fallout. There is plenty of information out there. Don’t be brainwashed by the power companies who tell you they are safe. They are in it for profit. They lie to keep their fortunes intact and our lives are collateral damage. For those who think it’s safe. Lets just for one minute think ok, but if it’s not, what then? We are no different than Fukushima. Why play Russian roulette with our lives.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 11

    • Myself says:

      If you want to minimize your impacted footprint stop doing anything that has to do with electricity untill all your beloved other sources of safe energy come on line,their is no other sources of energy,solar fields like the ones in CAl Valley are a farce,those are already killing birds that fly over them bursting into flame,and still they don’t produce a fraction of what the power plant in Motto Bay did.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 5

  5. kayaknut says:

    I recently was reading transcripts from an interview a Mothers for Peace representative did, I was interested because I think most of us want a safe Diablo Power plant and Mothers for Peace say that is what they want. Some things seemed worthy, but it got to a point where the Mothers for Peace person was concerned about how high the plant was above sea level, okay makes sense, she commented about the disaster in Japan, and then she said she was really concerned that the cooling water intake pipes were “actually” below sea level, and I got to thinking just where did she want these pipes???, come on they are “intake” pipes. It then occurred to me she and Mothers for Peace don’t really want a safe running Diablo Power plant, they plainly just don’t want a power plant at all. No matter to what extent they go to make the plant safe, and prepare for disasters it will never be safe enough for this women and Mothers for Peace.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 30 Thumb down 10

    • r0y says:

      That would be a fair enough argument. I did not see this interview (link it?) but if the representative said they wanted the nuclear plant but were concerned with safety, yet really did not want it at all in any way, then that is just dishonesty.

      I do not mind if a group says, “We want no nukes ever” – that’s fine, we can have that discussion and debate (hopefully); I am on the fence with nuclear power. I would LOVE to not have to need it at all, but the reality is, it is the “greenest” energy on the planet, causing the least amount of pollutants in the air and water. Now, the waste and hazards of disasters obviously dull the shine of the arguments for it.

      Until we need FAR, FAR LESS energy (which will NEVER, EVER happen), we’re going to need nuclear power – unless we all want to build more fossil fuel plants? A LOT more fossil fuel plants.

      How many fossil fuel plants does a typical nuclear plant supplant? I am curious to know.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  6. SLO_Johnny says:

    The common mistake is making a direct relationship between Richter Magnitude (which measures the total energy release from a seismic event) and the maximum ground acceleration and maximum horizontal and vertical displacement. Diablo Canyon is built on solid rock with a foundation almost six feet thick. It was engineered to withstand lateral accelerations of 1.5G’s lateral acceleration with no damage and 4G’s with no breach of the containment system; that means the plant’s foundation can support 4 times its own weight sideways. The containment structure is made of reinforced concrete that is at least 1.5 feet thick.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 7

    • diamond says:

      Here’s Your containment Johnny

      Steven Starr, Director of the Clinical Laboratory Science Program at the University of Missouri/Senior Scientist at Physicians for Social Responsibility: The Japanese basically lied about what happened with the reactors for months. They said they were trying to prevent a meltdown, when in fact they knew within the first couple of days Reactors 1, 2, and 3 at Fukushima Daiichi had melted down, and they actually melted through the steel containment vessels.

      So there was a worst case scenario that they were trying to hide, they even knew that at that time enormous amounts of radiation were released over Japan and some of it even went over Tokyo [...]

      The melted core cracked the containment vessel, there really is no containment. So as soon as they pump the water in it leaks out again.

      The crisis is clearly ongoing”

      Published: August 18th, 2014 at 5:48 pm ET
      By ENENews
      ——————————————————————————–

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  7. BeenThereDoneThat says:

    After the quake on Sunday, I told my wife……….wait and it will only be days till someone brings up Diablo. Thanks for not disappointing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 6

    • r0y says:

      Is it not rational to be concerned about a nuclear power plant all the time? I’d be concerned about a fireworks factory in fire season, even if the fire was a couple hundred miles away…

      It is when we become fat, lazy and complacent that problems and (worse) the mis-handling of them occur. Does not hurt to be on one’s toes. What is the old saying? Hope for the best, plan for the worst?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  8. Jorge Estrada says:

    Unless there is a catastrophic incident nuclear power generation is very safe, given the carbon copy observations of human reproductions thus far. The long term affects caused by the new findings on sub-atomic particular radiation are unknown but I’m sure the NRC has an open file should there be a sharp spike in your great-great grandchildren’s birth health. Well, who cares about 150 years from now?, I certainly do!

    If you understand this fuel then you understand that 150 years is nothing in that fuels life cycle. I agree with the nuke builders that they are safe per their best standards and efforts.
    The use of asbestos in our homes, schools, etc. was safe too but know billions of dollars have been set aside to right that wrong.

    As for the nuke issues, this may be like remedying a bullet hole between your eyes as well as your successors? I know that sounds rediculous but consider the current evacucation plan should there be a need, that is rediculous too. On go the horns, then the news and SLO charges up the Cuesta Grade or Highway 1, that’s a disaster on a holiday weekend.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 10

  9. SnakePliskin says:

    About time.

    Nuclear Dangers from Fukushima to Diablo Canyon

    “As aftershocks of the 6.0 Napa earthquake that occurred Sunday in California continued, the Associated Press this week revealed a secret government report pointing to major earthquake vulnerabilities at the Diablo Canyon nuclear plants which are a little more than 200 miles away and sitting amid a webwork of earthquake faults.

    It’s apparent to any visitor to the stretch of California where the two Diablo Canyon plants are sited that it is geologically hot. A major tourist feature of the area: hot spas. “Welcome to the Avila Hot Springs,” declares the website of one, noting how “historic Avila Hot Springs” was “discovered in 1907 by at the time unlucky oil drillers and established” as a “popular visitor-serving natural artesian mineral hot springs.” http://www.avilahotsprings.com

    Nevertheless, Pacific Gas & Electric had no problem in 1965 picking the area along the California coast, north of Avila Beach, as a location for two nuclear plants.

    It was known that the San Andreas Fault was inland 45 miles away. Then, in 1971, with construction underway, oil company geologists discovered another earthquake fault, the Hosgri Fault, just three miles out in the Pacific from the plant site and linked to the San Andreas Fault.

    In 2008 yet another fault was discovered, the Shoreline Fault­but 650 yards from the Diablo Canyon plants.

    The Shoreline Fault, and concerns about the vulnerability of nuclear plants to earthquakes in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi disaster, are integral to a 42-page report written by Dr. Michael Peck, for five years the lead inspector on-site for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission at Diablo Canyon.

    Peck’s report was obtained by the Associated Press, which has done excellent journalism in recent years investigating the dangers of nuclear power, and the AP issued a story Monday on the report.

    In the report (pdf), Peck writes: “The new seismic information resulted in a condition outside of the bounds of the existing Diablo Canyon design basis and safety analysis. Continued reactor operation outside the bounds of the NRC approved safety analyses challenges the presumption of nuclear safety.”

    He also states: “The Shoreline [Fault] Scenario results in SSC [acronym in the nuclear field for Structures, Systems and Components] seismic stress beyond the plant SSE [Safe Shutdown Earthquake] qualification basis. Exposure to higher levels of stress results in an increase[d] likelihood of a malfunction of SSCs. The change also increases the likelihood of a malfunction of SSCs important to safety…”

    Peck notes that the “prevailing” NRC “staff view” is that “potential ground motions from the Shoreline fault are at or below those levels for which the plant was previously evaluated and demonstrated to have a ‘reasonable assurance of safety.’”

    He disagrees and says that the NRC staff “also failed to address the Los Osos and San Luis Bay faults,” faults that the Shoreline Fault are seen as potentially interacting with, and that “new seismic information” concludes that “these faults were also capable of producing ground motions”

    Also, he says: “The prevailing staff view that ‘operability’ may be demonstrated independent of existing facility design basis and safety analyses requirements establishes a new industry precedent. Power reactor licensees may apply this precedent to other nonconforming and unanalyzed conditions.”

    “What’s striking about Peck’s analysis,” says the AP story, “is that it comes from within the NRC itself, and gives a rare look at a dispute within the agency. At issue are whether the plant’s mechanical guts could survive a big jolt, and what yardsticks should be used to measure the ability of the equipment to withstand the potentially strong vibrations that could result.” http://www.ktvu.com/news/news/ap-exclusive-expert-calls-diablo-canyon-shutdown/ng8Tj/

    The AP story also says, “Environmentalists have long depicted Diablo Canyon­the state’s last nuclear plant after the 2013 closure of the San Onofre reactors in Southern California­as a nuclear catastrophe in waiting. In many ways, the history of the plant, located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco…and within 50 miles of 500,000 people, has been a costly fight against nature, involving questions and repairs connected to its design and structural strength.”

    Calling the Peck report “explosive,” the environmental group Friends of the Earth this week described it as having been “kept secret for a year.”

    Said Damon Moglen, senior strategy advisor at Friends of the Earth: “Inspector Peck is the canary in the coal mine, warning us of a possible catastrophe at Diablo Canyon before it’s too late. We agree with him that Diablo Canyon is vulnerable to earthquakes and must be shut down immediately.”

    Moglen said: “Given the overwhelming risk of earthquakes, federal and state authorities would never allow nuclear reactors on this site now. Are PG&E and the NRC putting the industry’s profits before the health and safety of millions of Californians.”

    “Rather than the NRC keeping this a secret,” Moglen went on, “there must be a thorough investigation with public hearings to determine whether these reactors can operate safely.”

    Peck is still with the NRC, a trainer at its Technical Training Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

    Michael Mariotte, president of the Nuclear Information & Resource Service, commented Monday that in “plain English” what Peck’s report acknowledges is: “The NRC does not know whether Diablo Canyon could survive an earthquake, within the realm of the possible, at any of the faults around Diablo Canyon. And the reactors should shut down until the NRC does know one way or the other. Of course, if the reactors cannot survive a postulated earthquake, the obvious conclusion is that they must close permanently. The question is whether the NRC will ever act on Peck’s recommendation or whether the agency will continue to sit on it until after the next earthquake.”

    Mariotte also says: “The irony is that this should have been the big news a year ago; Peck wrote his recommendation­in the form of a formal Differing Professional Opionion­in July 2013. And the NRC still hasn’t taken action or even responded to it.”

    In his report Peck also states that the NRC is supposed to be committed to a “standard of safety” and “safety means avoiding undue risk or providing reasonable assurance of adequate protection for the public.”

    Meanwhile, PG&E has not only been insisting that its Diablo Canyon plants are safe, despite the earthquake threat, but has filed with the NRC to extend the 40 year licenses given for their operations another 20 years­to 2044 for Diablo Canyon 1 and to 2045 for Diablo Canyon 2.

    An analysis done in 1982 by Sandia National Laboratories for the NRC, titled “Calculations for Reactor Accident Consequences 2,” evaluated the impacts of a meltdown with “breach of containment” at every nuclear plant in the U.S.­what happened at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plants as a result of an earthquake. For the Diablo Canyon nuclear plants, it projected 10,000 “peak early fatalities” for each of the plants and $155 billion in property damages for Diablo Canyon 1 and $158 billion for Diablo Canyon 2­ in 1980 dollars.”

    http://www.commondreams.org/views/2014/08/27/nuclear-dangers-fukushima-diablo-canyon

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 12 Thumb down 34

    • r0y says:

      I have not trusted ANYTHING by the AP for years. They definitely pick their stories and narratives, regardless of truth. That is not to say they are wrong here (I don’t know), but it is like citing Pravda (or Russia Today) or Al Jazeera for accuracy and honesty. Just not going to happen.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

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