SANTA MONICA - PG&E's controversial plan to conduct underground seismic testing in waters off the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant has been rejected by the California Coastal Commission.
After a marathon public hearing in Santa Monica that lasted all day, a unanimous Coastal Commission denied PG&E's application to set off powerful sound waves beneath the ocean bottom to see if an earthquake fault line threatens the structural integrity of the power plant, the only operational nuclear power plant in California.
PG&E says its mandated by state law and federal regulations to conduct the tests in the interest of public safety.
But opponents of the seismic testing say it would harm the marine ecosystem and coastal fisheries off of Diablo Canyon.
Coastal Commissioners agreed the seismic testing is inconsistent with the State Coastal Act that governs all activities along the coast and in state waters.
One Commissioner noted the opposition to the testing from the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors.
"The letter from the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors is important", said Coastal Commissioner Juana Zimmer, "the county had supported the plan initially with conditions from the State Lands Commission, but when those conditions weren't met, it switched to opposing project, and the more public scrutiny this project has had has led to the belief the project is the wrong model at this time."
PG&E argued it is mandated to conduct the tests under California AB 1632 which requires seismic safety studies to determine the structural safety of the state's two nuclear power plants
The utility says the nuclear power plant is designed to withstand the shock of an earthquake measuring up to 7.5 on the Richter scale.
"If you live near a nuclear power plant, wouldn't you want more certainty in the assumptions that are being made", said PG&E's Mark Krauss.
Opponents say the power company and the California Public Utilities Commission are rushing to conduct the tests without proper environmental review including previous tests that have already been conducted.
"They haven't done their homework, they are rushing forward and they haven't gone back and presented all the data they have collected", said opponent Susan Jordan, "my real concern about the environment, where these people live, they are already reporting to us that there have been significant impacts."
Skeptics say the well-organized opposition to the seismic testing was not so much in favor of the environment but more aligned with an ongoing campaign to prevent the federal re-licensing of Diablo Canyon and force PG&E to shut the nuclear power plant down.
PG&E still has the option of trying to reverse the Coastal Commission's decision in court.
The utility released this statement regarding the Coastal Commission decision:
"PG&E put forth a sound and comprehensive plan to conduct this research, which was guided by seismic experts, state and federal agencies and our commitment to performing the work in an environmentally responsible manner. While we are disappointed with the decision, we appreciate the work of the Commission staff and members in considering this seismic study proposal."
"As part of our strong commitment to seismic safety, PG&E continually studies earthquake faults in the region of Diablo Canyon and seismic events around the world to ensure the safety of the facility. The proposed survey is only one component of our larger, multi-layered seismic research program through which we recently completed several advanced onshore and offshore studies to further our knowledge of the region's complex geology. We will focus on gathering and interpreting this recently collected data as we evaluate the Commission's decision to determine how to proceed with additional seismic data collection efforts."
Friday, May 24 2013 12:08 PM EDT2013-05-24 16:08:19 GMT
SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. – The California Highway Patrol will begin new safety enforcements on east Highway 166 during the Memorial Day weekend. The additional patrols are being supported through theMore >>
The California Highway Patrol will begin new safety enforcements on east Highway 166 during the Memorial Day weekend.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 11:40 AM EDT2013-05-24 15:40:40 GMT
SANTA MARIA, Calif. – Santa Maria Police are investigating a shooting that occurred on the 800 block of Tabitha Lane. Just before 4:00am Friday morning, officers responded to a call of shots fired intoMore >>
Santa Maria Police are investigating a shooting into a residence that occurred on the 800 block of Tabitha Lane.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 11:31 AM EDT2013-05-24 15:31:28 GMT
GREENVILLE, Calif. -- The U.S. Geological Survey recorded a 5.7 magnitude earthquake in Northern California Thursday night. The epicenter was northwest of Greenville and was felt in several other surroundingMore >>
The U.S. Geological Survey recorded a 5.7 magnitude earthquake in Northern California Thursday night. The epicenter was northwest of Greenville and was felt in several other surrounding cities.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 4:18 AM EDT2013-05-24 08:18:45 GMT
CENTRAL COAST, Calif. - You can't say "summer" without "sequel." This weekend, two big ones are hitting the box office. Here is a breakdown of the latest movies coming to theaters: THE HANGOVER PARTMore >>
CENTRAL COAST, Calif. - You can't say "summer" without "sequel." This weekend, two big ones are hitting the box office.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 2:33 AM EDT2013-05-24 06:33:48 GMT
ORCUTT, Calif. - Righetti High School students showed off their works of art on Thursday night, hoping to raise money for an important cause. The art showcased the work of more than 600 students, featuringMore >>
ORCUTT, Calif. - Righetti High School students showed off their works of art on Thursday night, hoping to raise money for an important cause.More >>