September 19, 2021

Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant Earthquake Safety

“After the serious amount of damage caused to the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan opened the world’s eyes to the serious threat that nuclear power can have on our safety, professionals in the United States have turned their attention towards the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in California.

Located near the beautiful town of San Luis Obispo, the plant was built over forty years ago by PG&E. Two fault lines, the Hosgri and Shoreline, sit dangerously close to the aged plant, creating a potentially serious issue in the event of a quake. Referred to as a “”Hot potato issue”" by U.S. Geological Survey scientist Sam Johnson, U.S. Seismologists and government officials are beginning to speculate whether the two fault lines could cause an earthquake strong enough to harm the plant and endanger nearby residents and college students.

PG&E’s previous assessment of the fault lines claims that the length of the faults is too short to cause any serious damage, but various officials have begun releasing calculations that could put the faults at over double the length they were previously recorded. Thought to only reach a length of 105 miles, the new scenario presented at the USGS headquarters in Menlo Park by Sam Johnson claims that the Hosgri fault might stretch over 250 miles all the way to Bolinas, a town just north of San Francisco.

If these calculations were to be correct, the fault lines would have the potential to generate an 8.0 earthquake, a force far too powerful for the power plant to hope to withstand. Information is being derived California Seafloor Mapping Program, but Johnson was sure to clarify that the faults have not been officially noted to run that far but the USGS.

PG&E has noted that the plant was designed and tested with quake safety in mind, but the four decades of time between it’s construction and present day leaves many to wonder just how secure the plant really is. The Shoreline fault was recently discovered in 2008, and PG&E released a 500-page report that predicted a length of only 15 miles long and a potential of a 7.5 magnitude earthquake.

Some predictions have been established that both faults might be able to work in unison to create an earthquake that was too powerful for the plant to withstand, but PG&E denied the possibility of the Hosgri fault working together with the newly discovered Shoreline fault that lays only a few hundred feet from the power plant itself.”

San Francisco Chronicle

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