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NRC Analyst Calls To Close Diablo Canyon, CA's Last Remaining Nuclear Plant 216

An anonymous reader writes Michael Peck, who for five years was Diablo Canyon's lead on-site inspector, says in a 42-page, confidential report that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is not applying the safety rules it set out for the plant's operation. The document, which was obtained and verified by The Associated Press, does not say the plant itself is unsafe. Instead, according to Peck's analysis, no one knows whether the facility's key equipment can withstand strong shaking from those faults — the potential for which was realized decades after the facility was built. Continuing to run the reactors, Peck writes, "challenges the presumption of nuclear safety."
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NRC Analyst Calls To Close Diablo Canyon, CA's Last Remaining Nuclear Plant

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  • Re:In other news... (Score:4, Informative)

    by geoskd ( 321194 ) on Monday August 25, 2014 @06:35PM (#47752215)

    US starts buying more nuclear power from Canada, quickly pulling a Germany. In 5 years, subsidies much like those in Germany will then be gutted, and there will be a mass rush to build new coal and NG power plants until reactors can be refurbished or built anew.

    Almost: Germany has been in a mad rush for quite a while to build solar and wind power production. The whole country is dotted with thousands of wind turbines, and a massive percentage of the country have solar panels to reduce their power demands from the grid. In short, Germany has been preparing for a while to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, and was consequently in a position to abandon nuclear power instead. At their current build rate, in 10 years, they will only need 50% of the fossil fuels they use today, even with the nuclear plants shut down

    The key to their success is that, for Germans, the overriding goal is environmental protection. Its a national obsession (Probably owing to complete lack of available land, and limited fossil fuels). Like Japan, one bad nuclear accident is guaranteed to affect a massive percentage of the population, fossil fuels leaves them too reliant on foreign powers. It means that Germany's only real option is renewable energy sources, and they have the political will and industrial might to make it happen.

    Unlike American politics, the anti-environment sociopaths don't last long in German politics.

  • by jfmiller ( 119037 ) on Monday August 25, 2014 @08:49PM (#47753107) Homepage Journal

    Yes, in 1999 (when I last toured the plant) the SCRAM time was 3.5 seconds with control rods fully placed in 0.5 seconds if the emergency circuit is tripped. This happens automatically in the event of a 6.0 or stronger quake. An emergency SCRAM requires 30 to 120 days to restart the reactor. Also like all reactors, it requires time to cool. Because DCNP is located on the ocean it does not require active cooling to safely cool the reactor core after a crash. flooding the core with sea water will probably be the end of that reactor, but it will not loose containment. The plant was originally designed to be operational after a 7.0 quake and to not loose containment in the event of a 9.5. After the discovery of the Hsgri fault the design was modified to withstand a 10.8 quake. Analysis after the 2004 6.2 quake in Paso Rubles suggests that the engineering was "very conservative" and that the plant may well be able to survive an 8.0 in operational condition.

    On the other hand, the temporary on site storage of spent fuel was not part of the original plan, In the event of a major seismic event, it is the spent fuel casks that scare me.

  • Re:In other news... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Monday August 25, 2014 @08:54PM (#47753149)

    Germany is switching its baseload from nuclear to coal, which has meant digging the world's largest strip mine: []
    covering 48 square kilometers. Think of it as an anti-nuclear exclusion zone, like Fukushima but getting bigger instead of being cleaned up..

    But when all the nukes are phased out, Garzweiler won't be enough. This even bigger lignite pit: []
    will top out at 85 sq. km when fully developed. Lignite has the approximate energy value, and pollution profile, of damp firewood.

  • Re:In other news... (Score:3, Informative)

    by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Monday August 25, 2014 @11:16PM (#47753773)

    Fossil fuels don't work in the US without huge subsidies.

    Not true. The taxes on gasoline and other fossil fuels far exceed the tax breaks for oil exploration. Fossil fuels in America do not receive net subsidies.

  • by russbutton ( 675993 ) <> on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @02:06AM (#47754347) Homepage
    33 years ago I was the cost analyst for the Diablo Canyon project. I've been inside the thing and earthquake safety was huge in the construction of the plant. It is VASTLY over-engineered for earthquake safety. The original spec was to survive an 8.0 earthquake on the San Andreas fault, which is 30 miles away. The Hosgri fault, which is just off-shore, was unknown at the time the plant was first sited and was only discovered later. The plant was re-engineered to withstand an 8.0 earthquake on the Hosgri fault, which hasn't moved in many thousands of years.

    The real problem with Diablo Canyon, and the rest of the nuclear industry is managing the waste. There is no place to put nuclear waste in this country, so it's just stored on-site. That's crazy. You can't do that forever.

    That being said, my expectation is that we'll continue to see tech advancements in solar and wind generation, and energy storage to the point where large central generation will be a thing of the past.

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen