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Double fault: Nuclear safety at Diablo Canyon

On Wednesday, a special task force assigned by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission released its findings about the preparedness of American nuclear plants, the NRC’s role and whether the agency should make additional improvements to its regulatory systems. The task force was formed in response to the Fukushima disaster in Japan. After four months of study, the group announced twelve recommendations including the call to strengthen oversight of plant safety. According to one California legislator, a place that might benefit from that suggestion is a small town in his district with a potentially big problem.

In a joint investigation with our colleagues at the Center for Investigative Reporting and Capital Public Radio, we bring you this Watch List report.

Watch the rest of the segments from this episode.

  • Differing views on fracking's impact
    Studies conducted on the counties above the Marcellus and Barnett Shale for example — where extensive drilling has already taken place — present mixed economic results.
  • thumb
    Too much solar energy?
    The proliferation of privately owned solar has large power companies in Germany worried.
  • thumb
    Nominee has industry ties
    Energy secretary nominee had deep connections to industry, including as a paid adviser to BP until 2011.


  • roger

    I don’t like this – it is poorly done and misleading and relies too much on Sen Blakeslee’s being a self-described geophysicist “earthquake” expert.  You really should have checked things like what size earthquake is Diablo Canyon designed to survive.  I do not recall that having even been stated.  There is zero tsunami risk and the type of earthquake would be strike/slip. a sideways movement, not a thrust fault of the type that was found undersea near Fukushima.  Diablo Canyon is not near a subduction zone. 

  • Ace

    Yeah…A SMALL risk is NO risk at all….
    Unless it happens, and then it becomes
    a huge EVENT, and then you’re dead.

    Why should I care…I live a couple of
    thousand miles away in Wisconsin
    …..but I DO care. 

  • Craig

    Remember  M6.3 Christchurch New Zealand 2/22/11 earthquake on a strike-slip fault, had the world record (until 311 Tohoku earthquake) with a PGA of 2.2g.   I read the transcripts of last years NRC/PG&E seismic workshop and one of the expert speakers stated, if I understood correctly, that Diablo Canyon was constructed to withstand 1.56g PGA.

  • roger

    Provide links to claimed statements.  I really do not find the first statement to be believable, that the world record for ground motion was from 6.3 Christ Church quake. Want to see the first hand information.

  • roger


    You probably do not know – just care!  Fukushima has been overhyped, so the lead in questioning if a Fukushima-style disaster could happen is equally hyped – just like the hype about the Missouri river flooding in Nebraska – they hype spreaders get the word around really quick and that is not the job of a PBS station – they have an obligation to inform, not to proselytize for the anti-nuclear fanatics.

  • FightHAARP

    Sen. Blakeslee is not simply stating that he is a geophysicist – he worked as one for Exxon.  He is troublesome for the industry because they can’t b.s. him like they do most politicians.  Furthermore, the story provides powerful support for his skepticism from the CEC and USGS.

    The piece shows a PG&E presentation that indicates that a 7.2 magnitude earthquake is beyond their basic safety design.  Of course, they maintain, in the face of USGS assertions to the contrary, that such an earthquake has “zero probability of occurring” and that such a quake wouldn’t pose a safety problem.  As Blakeslee, points out, the industry has a long history of putting profit before safety and the public interest.  Why should we believe them?  Why did they race to get recommissioned before the CEC study was completed?  Do we really want to be so cavalier when there are two fault lines within 3 miles of the facility?

  • Dennis Franklin Nester

    Let’s conduct a proper test and really see how ‘cooked’ we all are, like Karen Silkwood said! Arnie Gundersen suggested the air filters on your cars should be tested. Natural and manmade radiation causes permanent DNA damage. Most disease rates increased from 1945, the beginning of the atomic age. All we can do now is minimize exposure. There is a cost-effective way to backwards engineer invisible, deadly radioactive elements to eliminate them and produce electricity from the heat. The problem is ‘burial’ is federal policy, signed by President Reagan! 
    The Roy Process For Neutralizing Nuclear Waste: Part 3 
    Professor Christopher Busby:  Infertility – Fukushima – Chernobyl 

  • Anonymous

    I would REALLY like TV investigation into all the sick and dead workers and cross contamination of family members due to employment at the Nuclear bomb parts production plant in Kansas City, MO. Even a daycare was exposed. People can get fanatical when multiple family members have cancers confirmed to be linked to beryllium and over 800 toxins. Are we over hyping???

  • roger

    you are really into the ones who really know it all – just ask them – do they pay you to shill for them or are you just scientifically challenged?

  • roger

    You certainly are overhyping and probably just parroting junk you got from someone – come on now, 800 toxins – you really can’t be serious.  TV investigations tend to cater to the hype and do a pretty poor job of getting into the nitty gritty of actual facts – those often are too boring for audiences who want to become excited about the news. 

  • Cindi Burkey

    @Roger—-Fukushima overhyped?  There’s only some 1700 tons of fuel core material melting down at that plant.  Which is about equal to 20 reactor cores.  They’ve only got one, two-hundred-thousand tons of highly radioactive water sitting in storage (with  more and more every day) because what they are basically doing to cool down this material is spraying water on it.  Meanwhile, the water’s still seeping into the ground.  They don’t know what to do with all the water that keeps piling up and they’ve dumped tens of thousands of tons into the Pacific already.
    Overhyped?  Are you seriously, seriously…serious? 
    Have you heard about the problems with the oceans recently?  Garbage patches the size of Texas in the Pacific, a Gulf of Mexico coated all along its bottom with millions of gallons of oil, (and Corexit, too)–and now radioactive water in the Pacific?
    If we lose our oceans, we are DONE.  I mean, we are really done.

    Some of us “fanatics” get kind of fanatical about staying alive and leaving the planet liveable for our descendants.  Wacky, I know.