Harvey Wasserman / Solartopia & Reader Supported News – 2019-02-10 00:57:39
California’s Dangerous Diablo Nuke
Hangs in Governor Newsom’s Hands
Harvey Wasserman / Reader Supported News
(January 7, 2019) — The 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 moveon.org petition, and contact me at solartopia.org.
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 moveon.org petition, and contact me at www.solartopia.org.
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.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.