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Wasserman writes: "Is the bankrupt federal felon Pacific Gas & Electric desperately hiding something very deadly at its Diablo Canyon Power Plant? Will we know by March 7, when the company wants to restart Unit One, which is currently shut for refueling? Will YOU sign our petition asking Governor Gavin Newsom and other officials to inspect that reactor before it can restart?"

Pacific Gas & Electric's Diablo Canyon plant in Avila Beach has California's last operating nuclear reactors. (photo: Michael Mariant/AP)
Pacific Gas & Electric's Diablo Canyon plant in Avila Beach has California's last operating nuclear reactors. (photo: Michael Mariant/AP)


What Deadly Disaster Is the Criminal, Bankrupt PG&E So Desperately Hiding at Its Diablo Canyon Nukes

By Harvey Wasserman, Reader Supported News

03 March 19

 

s the bankrupt federal felon Pacific Gas & Electric desperately hiding something very deadly at its Diablo Canyon Power Plant? Will we know by March 7, when the company wants to restart Unit One, which is currently shut for refueling? Will YOU sign our petition asking Governor Gavin Newsom and other officials to inspect that reactor before it can restart?

In 2010, PG&E blew up a neighborhood in San Bruno, killing eight people.

In 2018, it helped burn down much of northern California, killing more than eighty people. The company has now admitted its culpability in starting that infamous Camp Fire and has questioned its own ability to continue to operate.

On February 6, it incinerated five buildings in San Francisco.

The company is bankrupt. It has been convicted of numerous federal felonies. It actually has a probation officer.

But the real terror comes at its Diablo Canyon nuclear reactors, nine miles west of San Luis Obispo on the central California coast.

The reactors are embrittled. They may be cracked. As with the gas pipes in San Bruno and the power poles in northern California, PG&E’s maintenance at these huge reactors has been systematically neglected.

But the company does NOT want the public to inspect them. WHY?

Right now, Diablo Unit One is shut for refueling. Critical inspections for embrittlement, cracking and deferred maintenance could be easily and cheaply done. Public discussions could also be held on vulnerability to earthquakes, waste management, and corporate competence.

The public does not need Diablo’s power, which often overloads the grid, forcing the shutdown of cleaner, safer wind and solar capacity. Reopening a cracked reactor would turn the fuel assemblies on-site into high-level radioactive waste, converting a multi-million-dollar asset into a huge fiscal liability.

Diablo Unit One is in particular danger because it was designed in the 1960s. Its original blueprints did not account for the dozen earthquake faults since discovered nearby. Copper used in key welds is now known to be inferior. Older reactors like those at Diablo are susceptible to embrittlement and cracking, which could be catastrophic.

In 1991 the Yankee Rowe Reactor in Massachusetts was forced to shut because of embrittlement. It was younger then than Diablo One is now.

Because PG&E is in bankruptcy and on federal probation, the state has extraordinary power right now. Normally such issues are pre-empted by the feds.

But at this time the governor, state agencies, the California Public Utilities Commission, and the courts have the right to demand these inspections. Certainly the public has a legitimate expectation to be protected.

The downwind consequences of a major accident are beyond comprehension. Diablo is less than 200 miles upwind from Los Angeles. A radioactive cloud from a likely disaster would threaten the lives of millions. Damage to property and the natural ecology, including some of the world’s most productive farmland, would be essentially impossible to calculate.

US Representative Salud Carbajal (D-San Luis Obispo) has already questioned PG&E’s competence to run these two huge reactors. A number of Hollywood stars, along with State Senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon, and numerous towns and party organizations, have already joined with more than a thousand grassroots activists to ask the governor to require these critical tests and to subject the findings to public scrutiny.

Given PG&E’s bankruptcy and criminal convictions, and the extreme vulnerability of reactors as old as those at Diablo Canyon, we must seriously wonder why the company would now ask to be exempt from a simple set of inspections.

To protect the health, safety, economy and ecology of our state, the governor, regulatory agencies, CPUC, and the courts must step in to demand these aged reactors be immediately subjected to painstaking public scrutiny.

There is no good reason not to do this, and no excuse for PG&E to be asking for an exemption from a simple, long-overdue inspection.

The last thing California can afford is a radioactive replay of what has happened with that pipeline explosion in San Bruno or those catastrophic fires in what’s left of the northern forests.

Next month marks the 40th anniversary of the accident at Three Mile Island, and the release of The China Syndrome, which told a terrifying tale we also do not want to see repeated.

You can sign our petition asking Governor Newsom and our public officials to step in at Diablo Canyon NOW, before it is once again too late.

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Harvey Wasserman’s Green Power & Wellness Show is podcast at prn.fm; 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 www.solartopia.org.


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0 # tr4302@gmail.com 2019-03-03 18:22
Please give the link to sign. I could not find it. Thanks for your help.
 
 
0 # solartopia.org 2019-03-10 22:13
https://petitions.moveon.org/sign/gov-newsom-test-diablo
 
 
+3 # ktony 2019-03-03 20:07
I would sign, but the links above don't seem to lead to the petition. I live in the Midwest, but another nuclear catastrophe right at the edge of the Pacific Ocean threatens the entire world. Fukushima Daiichi still represents a threat of further disasters. We don't need another disaster on this side of the ocean
 
 
+1 # Kootenay Coyote 2019-03-03 20:40
Are the laws limiting corporate financial responsibility for atomic accidents to a tiny fraction of actual cost still on the books?
 
 
+1 # economagic 2019-03-04 13:03
Yes they are. The Price-Anderson Act has never been tested, and in a "small" catastrophe it might serve. But in recent years there has been agitation for reform to limit public liability for corporate failure, which would effectively put an end to privately owned nuclear power generation.
 
 
+6 # elizabethblock 2019-03-03 21:33
As Bob Bossin put it, years ago. building a reactor without knowing what to do with the spent fuel is like building an outhouse without digging a hole first.
 
 
0 # elizabethblock 2019-03-03 21:38
But I couldn't find the petition!
 
 
+2 # Colleen Clark 2019-03-03 23:44
Power companies are rarely paragons of virtue but PG&E seems to be among the worst.
 
 
+2 # solartopia.org 2019-03-04 12:48
here's the link to the moveon.org petition to inspect diablo:

https://petitions.moveon.org/sign/gov-newsom-test-diablo

thanks!!!!
 
 
+1 # Peakspecies 2019-03-04 21:19
I have long admired your research and exposure of issues in the nuclear power industry. Still, by exaggerating statements, such as "blowing up San Bruno" and "burn down much of Northern California," you are setting yourself up to be discredited.

Apparently, many journalists come to believe that unless they use hyperbole they will not reach the people that they wish to activate.
 
 
0 # DongiC 2019-03-05 03:22
This essentially is a no brainer. PG&E, Diablo canyon, nuclear waste, 200 miles from LA, near some of the richest farmland in the world, why this is a nuclear nightmare. Certainly, I will sign the petition. Thanks a bunch, Solartopia.org.
 
 
0 # Citizen Mike 2019-03-05 14:29
We will not have any action on this issue until we have a big-time disaster like Chernobyl. That's just the way we are. A the moment we are starting to see long overdue action where Trump is our political Chernobyl.
 
 
+2 # ahollman 2019-03-05 22:45
Diablo Canyon is halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. It is directly west of Bakersfield, CA and Las Vegas, NV. The idea of operating a defective nuke in the middle of a state with 32 million people, a substantial fraction of whom are downwind of the plant, is ludicrous.

I'm in the Boston, MA area. 70 miles to the west, Yankee Rowe nuke is shut, and has recently been sold to a new owner, who also bought its decomissioning fund, and is claiming it will make money by decomissioning the plant more quickly and cheaply. Yeah, right.

50 miles to the south is the Pilgrim nuke, with one of the worst operating records of any nuke in the country. Its owners, planning to shut it down soon anyway, are fighting to run it for 3 more years. There is no feasible regional evacuation plan if it melts down.

50 miles to the north is the Seabrook, NH nuke, running reasonably well, but one of the costliest and longest to construct of any nuke. I and other ratepayers are still paying off the bonds. There is no feasible regional evacuation plan if it melts down.

Lacking another place, all 3 nukes store spent fuel on-site, subject to vandalism, theft, and, for the 2 seacoast plants, rising oceans.

The problem facing both the northeast and California is how to shut down the carbon-free nukes without replacing them with carbon-emitting fossil fuel plants. That requires conservation and efficiency measures and taxes on carbon emissions, all tough to achieve.
 

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