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April 19, 2011 > County against Diablo nuke plant relicensing

County against Diablo nuke plant relicensing

Submitted By AP Wire Service

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (AP), Apr 13 - Leaders in San Luis Obispo County want a halt to the relicensing process for the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant along the central California coast.

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to send a letter to Pacific Gas & Electric asking the operator of the south county plant to withdraw its relicensing application.

PG&E has asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to extend the power plant's operating licenses an additional 20 years. Diablo's licenses for the twin reactors expire in 2024 and 2025.

Diablo Canyon sits on a bluff 85 feet above the Pacific Ocean near Avila Beach, within 3 miles of two earthquake faults. The company has been under pressure from area lawmakers to conduct extensive, three-dimensional testing in the area before seeking new licenses, a concern heightened by the Japanese nuclear crisis.

Diablo Canyon, where reactors began operating in the mid-1980s, has a long history of seismic issues.

The discovery of the offshore Hosgri Fault in 1971, after the plant was mostly completed, forced a costly redesign. Then in 2008 a geologic fault was discovered about a half-mile from the seaside reactor, raising new concerns about safety.

Preliminary research at the site found its reactors could withstand a potential earthquake generated by the recently identified Shoreline Fault, but California regulators say more detailed study is needed.

The fear is the two faults could begin shaking in tandem, creating a larger quake than either fault would be capable of producing on its own. PG&E says the plant is built to withstand a magnitude-7.5 earthquake, the maximum considered possible for the site.

Earlier this week, the company asked the NRC to delay issuing new licenses, even if approved by the agency, until after testing is completed. The company said it plans to complete its fault research no later than 2015.

The Santa Maria Times says county supervisors want PG&E to withdraw the applications and focus on the seismic studies for the next few years.

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Information from: Santa Maria Times, http://www.santamariatimes.com/

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