Diablo Canyon would survive earthquake from new offshore faultline

14 April 2009

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has concluded the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant’s design would withstand the effects of a potential new fault line off the California coast.

Pacific Gas & Electric, which operates the plant 12 miles southwest of San Luis Obispo, Calif., notified the NRC in November 2008 about the potential “Shoreline Fault,” located about a kilometer offshore from Diablo Canyon. PG&E provided the NRC data from the company’s collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey regarding the potential fault.

NRC staff independently reviewed the USGS information to determine the fault’s potential implications for Diablo Canyon’s operation. The staff concluded the plant’s existing design already accounts for ground motions that could be generated by the potential fault’s largest possible earthquake. The staff also concluded the potential fault does not alter Diablo Canyon’s tsunami hazard. The staff will continue to analyze additional information on the potential fault as it becomes available.

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