Regulators reject call for nuke plant shutdown

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A top Nuclear Regulatory Commission official Wednesday rejected a federal expert's recommendation to shut down California's last operating nuclear power plant until it can determine whether its reactors can withstand powerful shaking from nearby earthquake faults.

In a decision released Wednesday, Executive Director for Operations Mark Satorius said there is no immediate or significant safety concern at the Diablo Canyon plant.

Michael Peck, who for five years was Diablo Canyon's lead inspector, said in a confidential report disclosed last month by The Associated Press that no one knows whether the plant's equipment can withstand strong shaking from those faults — the potential for which was realized decades after the facility was built.

He argued that the NRC is not applying safety rules it set out for the plant's operation.

Blair Jones — a spokesman for plant owner Pacific Gas and Electric Co. — said in a statement the NRC decision reaffirms that the plant "has been and continues to be seismically safe."

The NRC, which oversees the nation's commercial nuclear power industry, and the company have maintained the nearly three-decade-old reactors are safe and that the facility complies with its operating license, including earthquake safety standards.

Damon Moglen, a spokesman for Friends of the Earth, an advocacy group critical of the nuclear power industry, said in a statement that the plant "should not be allowed to operate for another day without being closed and subjected to a full public safety review."