RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

Wasserman writes: "The fate of one of the world's most dangerous atomic reactors is now in the hands of California governor Gavin Newsom."

California governor Gavin Newsom. (photo: Chris Stone/San Diego Times)
California governor Gavin Newsom. (photo: Chris Stone/San Diego Times)

California's Dangerous Diablo Nuke Hangs in Governor Newsom's Hands

By Harvey Wasserman, Reader Supported News

07 January 19


he fate of one of the world’s most dangerous atomic reactors is now in the hands of California governor Gavin Newsom.

His vital decision is whether to order cheap, simple, structural tests at Diablo Canyon Unit One, which is currently shut for refueling. Please call him and ask him to do so at (916) 445-2841 and/or sign our petition, and contact me at

Like all things nuclear, the legal situation is complicated, but the economic and safety issues are not.

Diablo Canyon’s owner, Pacific Gas & Electric, is bankrupt.

PG&E is also on legal probation, having been convicted of various felonies for killing eight San Bruno residents in an avoidable 2010 gas explosion. PG&E’s pipes blew up because the company deferred maintenance to save itself some money.

PG&E did the same to northern California power lines that ignited at least 17 fires in which scores died and a thousand homes burned.

The company has been sued for billions, forcing the bankruptcy. Its probation officer, Federal Judge William Alsup, recently asked PG&E’s president, should I “let you keep killing people?”

At Diablo Canyon Units One and Two, PG&E has been deferring critical maintenance since at least since 2010, with catastrophic potential.

Diablo One opened in 1984. Ten thousand citizens were arrested trying to stop it.

In 2003 the Nuclear Regulatory Commission rated it among America’s most severely embrittled reactors, meaning critical interior metals had lost their resiliency. If hit with emergency coolant during a melt-down, they could shatter, causing an apocalyptic event.

The industry-friendly NRC has let PG&E defer further tests. But Unit One is now shut, and embrittlement can be tested easily and cheaply.

The NRC has domain over safety issues. But bankrupt PG&E is asking the state for legal and financial help. Governor Newsom has the right and responsibility to ascertain Diablo’s true economic worth, exclusive of NRC jurisdiction.

As is common among older reactors, Diablo’s innards may be cracked. The ultrasound tests for finding out are also cheap and easily done while Unit One is shut.

PG&E knows what maintenance it has deferred. The state must independently evaluate what that means for Diablo’s financial value (or liability) as well as for the health and safety of all of us.

There’s much more. Diablo is surrounded by earthquake faults that were not accounted for in the original designs. The plant might not withstand a likely seismic shock.

Serious questions have also arisen about how PG&E plans to handle Diablo’s radioactive wastes. US congressman Salud Carbajal (D-CA), who represents San Luis Obispo, has questioned whether PG&E can safely manage these two giant reactors. Diablo’s power is also extraneous to the California grid, and PG&E has admitted its capacity could be entirely replaced with renewables.

But the immediate issue is the critical tests that must be done at this dangerous, decrepit, and uneconomic nuclear power plant while Unit One is shut. The results must be evaluated in full public view before new fuel is loaded.

Embrittlement, cracking, and deferred maintenance are key to the health and safety of us all.

They are also at the core of the PG&E bankruptcy, in which the state is the definitive player. Governor Newsom has the power and responsibility to order these tests. He must do so immediately.

Please call him at (916) 445-2841, and/or sign our petition, and contact me at

Email This Page

Harvey Wasserman’s Green Power & Wellness Show is podcast at; California Solartopia is broadcast at KPFK-Pacifica, 90.7 fm, Los Angeles. His Life & Death Spiral of US History: From Deganawidah to Trump to Solartopia will soon be at

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+7 # Thomas Martin 2019-02-07 23:38
Yes - we cannot defer the now simple tests that can be done opportunely on Unit One regarding aging - but we need to continue to examine the plant's being cited in an active earthquake zone, with four known faults in close proximity - it's designed for a 7.5 earthquake, with maximum predictions for the nearest fault (the Shoreline fault) being 6.5. I recently contacted my insurance company about buying earthquake insurance in California, and they don't sell it.
+8 # 2019-02-08 08:36
Thanks for the warning and a link to sign to help stop this madness. BoomBoom no nukes no Trump Keep the faith and continue
the good fight.
-10 # BKnowswhitt 2019-02-09 15:39
Gee what a conflict. State of California with biggest social state in country .. and wealth to pay for it .. only by the big donors by the way which is why Trump won the peoples vote nationwide excluding CA and NY where he didn't even campaign or he would have won it. All the greenies in Europe pushing our policy to UN Plan run on nuclear. Now it's the big bad boogie man of NP .. only solution to no emmissions . if left up to these idiots .. we'd all be living in cabins back in the woods and getting black lung disease from our wood stoves .. oh yeah don't cut down the trees either .. save the planet save the planet .. total BS f...
+3 # laborequalswealth 2019-02-10 01:11
How do I know that nuke plants are a disaster waiting to happen? Easy: NO PRIVATE COMPANY WILL INSURE THEM.

What do insurance underwriters know that we don’t, eh?
+1 # Caliban 2019-02-11 23:49
Scrap the nukes; no coal (and no Donald); build green and renewable.

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.