Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant: The WikiBook/Overview of DCPP earthquake issues

Diablo Canyon (Nuclear) Power Plant, located on the water's edge in San Luis Obispo County California, was originally designed to withstand a 6.75 magnitude earthquake from four faults, including the nearby San Andreas and Hosgri faults,[1] but was later upgraded to withstand a 7.5 magnitude quake.[2] It has redundant seismic monitoring and a safety system designed to shut it down promptly in the event of significant ground motion.

Global earthquake epicenters, 1963–1998

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IntroductionEdit

Diablo Canyon (Nuclear) Power Plant (DCNPP/DCPP)is located proximal to the Los Osos, Hosgri, San Andreas and Shoreline earthquake faults. Many of these were discovered late in the process of design and construction, necessitating redesign. Construction errors compounded the delays and expense before the plant went online and began producing. Thereafter, discovery of the Shoreline fault caused a round of controversy leading Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee to introduce legislation mandating 3-D seismic studies. The plant is up for relicensing and, in the Fukushima aftermath, there is renewed opposition due in part to public perception that the risk of earthquake or tsunami make the plant unsafe. On the other hand, company officials contend that the plant is inherently safe from tsunami due its situation on an 85 foot coastal bluff. Re-licensing is contingent upon consistency with the Coastal Act and thus review by the California Coastal Commission, however seismic issues are more properly within the purview of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Much to the chagrin of some parties, such as US Senator Markey, the NRC in June 2011 announced that it had already completed its Safety Evaluation Report (SER) for the plant. [3][4]

Public controversyEdit

Critics contend that the Diablo Canyon (Nuclear) Power Plant was built so close to a set of geological fault lines that it is for all practical purposes to be regarded as built "directly over" an earthquake fault. [5]This is the Hosgri fault which was discovered while the plant was under construction, and led to massive redesign. More recently, the Shoreline fault was discovered, a few hundred meters offshor, sparking renewed interest in the controversy.

Early geologist perspectivesEdit

From a more scientific perspective, the geology is as follows:" Three Pliocene-Miocene marine sedimentary units dominate the geology of Diablo Canyon: the Pismo Formation, the Monterey Formation, and the Obispo Formation. According to a Lawrence-Berkely report entitled Geologic Investigation of a Potential Site for a Next-Generation Reactor Neutrino Oscillation Experiment – Diablo Canyon, San Luis Obispo County, CA [6]the area is tectonically active, located east of the active Hosgri Fault and in the southern limb of the northwest trending Pismo Syncline." The Obispo Formation is made up of marine and volcaniclastic sedimentary rocks. [7] [8][9][10][11][12] In 1985, the USGS of the Department of Interior published a report[13] by Kenneth Campbell, at that point in the history of earthquake science probably a "deterministic study", entitled "Empirical prediction of near-source ground motion for the Diablo Canyon power plant site, San Luis Obispo County, California".[14] More recent studies include probabilitist seismic hazard assessment. [15]

seismic source characterization studiesEdit

Various techniques are used to identify faults. These include:

  • aeromagnetic survey
  • marine magnetic survey
  • seismic reflection profiling
  • seismicity
  • sub-bottom profiling
  • geologic mapping
  • geodetic survey
  • gravity survey

[16]

Fuel rod assembly vulnerabilityEdit

In response to concern that ground acceleration, or shaking, could cause spillage of submerged fuel rod assemblies which, upon exposure to air, could ignite, PG&E and NRC regulators insist that the foregoing scenario is anticipated and controlled for, and that there is no basis to anticipate spillage. [17] Additional seismic studies are in process, however completion of those studies is not a condition precedent to reissuance of the operating licenses for the two onsite units.[18]In 1994, a probablistic seismic report was released [19][20] Additional seismic studies are in process, however completion of those studies is not a condition precedent to re-issuance of the operating licenses for the two onsite units. [21]


Risk estimatesEdit

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's estimate of the risk each year of an earthquake intense enough to cause core damage to the reactor at Diablo Canyon was 1 in 23,810, according to an NRC study published in August 2010.[22][23] At a community forum in San Luis Obispo, NRC, PG&E and academic experts presented information on seismic risks to the general public. This included a review of both older deterministic and more contemporary probablistic studies. [24]

Post-Fukushima developmentsEdit

In April 2011, in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear incident in Japan, PG&E asked the NRC not to issue license renewals until PG&E can complete new seismic studies, which are expected to take at least three years.[25][26] The ongoing (as of 6/2011) seismic studies were recommended by the California Energy Commission and are approved and funded by the California Public Utilities Commission. [27] Coomunity based organizations and activists contend that the plant is inherently unsafe due to the earthquake faults, the lack of knowledge about them, and a putatively inadequate track record of government and private industry in the anticipation and control of such hazards. [28] [29][30]

ReferencesEdit

  1. "Energy: A Nuclear Horror". Time. February 9, 1976. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,917988,00.html. Retrieved July 14, 2010. 
  2. David Sneed (August 9, 2011). "Diablo Canyon workshop to focus on earthquakes". The San Luis Obispo Tribune. http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2010/08/08/1244213/diablo-canyon-workshop-september.html. 
  3. http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1115/ML11153A103.pdf
  4. a4nr.org
  5. http://www.mothersforpeace.org
  6. Geologic Investigation of a Potential Site for a Next-Generation Reactor Neutrino Oscillation Experiment – Diablo Canyon, San Luis Obispo County, CA|Celia Tiemi Onishi, Patrick Dobson, and Seiji Nakagawa|Earth Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA|Steven Glaser and Dom Galic|Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720 USA
  7. http://www.ce.berkeley.edu/~glaser/documents/theta13_tunnel_finalreport.pdf
  8. "The Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, a 48-Year Odyssey". KCET. March 25, 2011. http://www.kcet.org/updaily/socal_focus/environment/31573-diablo-canyon-nuclear-power-plant.html. Retrieved May 20, 2011. 
  9. "Is Diablo Canyon prepared for possible earthquake?". KSBY.com. March 14 2011. http://www.ksby.com/news/is-diablo-canyon-prepared-for-possible-earthquake-/. Retrieved May 20, 2011. 
  10. http://www.fox40.com/news/headlines/ktxl-californias-two-nuclear-plants-near-fault-lines-20110314,0,3265997.story
  11. http://www.newsmax.com/InsideCover/Newsom-California-Diablo-canyon/2011/03/17/id/389759
  12. http://www.capradio.org/articles/2011/03/25/is-california-underestimating-quake-threat-to-nuclear-plants
  13. Campbell, Kenneth W; Geological Survey (U.S.) (1989) (in English), Empirical prediction of near-source ground motion for the Diablo Canyon power plant site, San Luis Obispo County, California [microform] / Kenneth W. Campbell, Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey : [Books and Open-File Reports Section, distributor] 
  14. |publisher = Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey |publication-place = Denver, Colo |author = Kenneth W Campbell |url = http://openlibrary.org/books/OL13612932M/Empirical_prediction_of_near-source_ground_motion_for_the_Diablo_Canyon_power_plant_site_San_Luis_Obispo_County_California |title = Empirical prediction of near-source ground motion for the Diablo Canyon power plant site, San Luis Obispo County, California |publication-date = 1989 }}
  15. Seismic Information Workshop|September 8-9, 2010|San Luis Obispo, CA|Agenda of Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  16. Seismic Information Workshop|September 8-9, 2010|San Luis Obispo, CA|Agenda of Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  17. "Diablo Canyon Independent Safety Committee’s Evaluation of Pressurized Thermal Shock and Seismic Interactions for a 20-Year License Extension at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant". Diablo Canyon Independent Safety Committee. 2011. http://www.dcisc.org/pts-public-release.php. Retrieved March 18, 2011. 
  18. "In The World of Nuclear Power Crisis". Life Magazine: pp. 23–30. May 1979. http://www.mindfully.org/Nucs/TMI-LifeMay79.htm. Retrieved July 14, 2010. 
  19. Bozoki, G. E; U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Division of Safety Issue Resolution; Brookhaven National Laboratory (1994) (in English), Review of Diablo Canyon Probabilistic Risk Assessment [microform] / prepared by G.E. Bozoki ... [et al.], Division of Safety Issue Resolution, Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission : Supt. of Docs., U.S. G.P.O. [distributor] 
  20. "Diablo Canyon Independent Safety Committee’s Evaluation of Pressurized Thermal Shock and Seismic Interactions for a 20-Year License Extension at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant". Diablo Canyon Independent Safety Committee. 2011. http://www.dcisc.org/pts-public-release.php. Retrieved March 18, 2011. 
  21. "In The World of Nuclear Power Crisis". Life Magazine: pp. 23–30. May 1979. http://www.mindfully.org/Nucs/TMI-LifeMay79.htm. Retrieved July 14, 2010. 
  22. Dedman, Bill (March 17, 2011). "What are the odds? US nuke plants ranked by quake risk". msnbc.com. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42103936/. Retrieved April 19, 2011. 
  23. http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/msnbc/Sections/NEWS/quake%20nrc%20risk%20estimates.pdf
  24. Seismic Information Workshop|September 8-9, 2010|San Luis Obispo, CA|Agenda of Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  25. Upton, John (March 17, 2011). "Seismic Uncertainty at Diablo Canyon". The Bay Citizen. http://www.baycitizen.org/pge/story/diablo-canyon/. Retrieved 2011-04-19. 
  26. Casselman, Ben; Stephen Power (April 12, 2011). "Diablo Plant Delays License Bid for Quake Study". The Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704529204576257302591577840.html. Retrieved 2011-04-19. 
  27. PG&E Letter DCL-11-047|April 10, 2011|To NRC
  28. Letter of Judith Evered, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom| To Nuclear Regulatory Commission|Entered public record agenda item # 3 Late distribution County of Santa Barbara| June 16, 2011
  29. http://www.mothersforpeace.org
  30. a4nr.org
Last modified on 4 April 2012, at 00:10