Watch CBS News

Regulators Affirm Quake Safety For Last Operating Nuclear Plant In Calif.

LOS ANGELES ( — A top Nuclear Regulatory Commission official has rejected a federal expert's recommendation to shut down California's last operating nuclear power plant until it can determine whether its reactors can withstand powerful shaking from nearby earthquake faults.

KNX 1070's Megan Goldsby reports in a decision released Wednesday, operations executive Mark Satorius said there is no immediate or significant safety concern at the Diablo Canyon plant near San Luis Obispo.

Regulators Affirm Quake Safety For Last Operating Nuclear Plant In Calif.

Michael Peck, who for five years was Diablo Canyon's lead inspector, said in a confidential report disclosed last month by The Associated Press that no one knows whether the plant's equipment can withstand strong shaking from those faults.

Peck had requested the NRC study be done after the Shoreline fault was discovered in 2008.

While there are five seismic faults close to the plant, both studies say they don't pose a threat to Diablo Canyon, according NRC spokesperson Lara Uselding.

"The NRC's position is that Diablo Canyon Power Plant is safe to operate and would be able to withstand the worst case earthquake possible on the Hosgri fault," said Uselding.

Blair Jones -- a spokesman for plant owner Pacific Gas and Electric Co. -- says in a statement the NRC decision reaffirms that the plant "has been and continues to be seismically safe."

Friends of the Earth — an advocacy group critical of the nuclear power industry — filed a petition with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in August asking for a hearing and charging the Diablo Canyon plant is violating its operating license.

In his analysis, Peck wrote that after officials learned of the Hosgri fault's potential shaking power, the NRC never changed the requirements for the structural strength of many systems and components in the plant.

In 2012, the agency endorsed preliminary findings that found shaking from the Shoreline fault would not pose any additional risk for the reactors. Those greater ground motions were "at or below those for which the plant was evaluated previously," referring to the Hosgri fault, it concluded.

Earthquake faults and nuclear power plants have been uneasy neighbors in the state for decades. The Humboldt Bay plant in Northern California, which was within 3,000 yards of three faults, was shut down in 1976 to refuel and reinforce its ability to withstand possible earthquakes.

Restarting it became more difficult and costly than projected - it never reopened.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.