Seismic Testing of California’s Nuke Plants Blocked

by Greg Pollowitz

By environmental groups:

Plans to use an array of powerful air cannons in an undersea seismic study near a Central California nuclear power plant have federal and state officials juggling concerns over marine life with public safety.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. wants to use big air guns to emit strong sound waves into a large, near-shore area that includes parts of marine reserves to make three-dimensional maps of fault zones, some of which were discovered in 2008, near its Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

State law mandated that the company conduct extensive seismic studies. After the company decided that it would use the high-energy seismic imaging technology for the study, a state environmental impact analysis found the project was likely to have “unavoidable adverse effects” on marine life and the environment. Biologists, environmental groups and fishermen have opposed using the high-energy air guns, saying the blasts have potential to harm endangered whales, California sea otters and other creatures frequenting these waters.

This is really crazy. After seeing what happened in Japan, I can’t believe there’s any argument against this testing. I’m all for nuclear power, but we have a nuclear power industry that because of regulation is stuck in the past. Our understanding of earthquakes and geology is exponentially greater than when these plants were built. Why would any environmentalist be against the testing?

And from a practical point, if I’m an greenie against nuclear power, the quickest way to get a plant shut down is to prove its been built in an unsafe geologic area and not through some drawn-out legal process under the guise of saving a few otters.

These studies need to be done now, and if need be, the Navy should step in and conduct the tests as losing a nuclear power plant in an earthquake is a real national security (and environmental) concern. We need to know which plants are safely located and which are not.