WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court let stand today a ruling upholding the federal licensing of Diablo Canyon nuclear plant near San Luis Obispo, Calif., despite a nearby earthquake fault, dashing the last hopes of a citizens group that fought the facility for a dozen years.
The justices refused to consider a ruling by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which rejected efforts of the San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace to block full-power operation of the $5.8-billion seaside plant.
The dispute focused on the location of the plant, three miles from the major Hosgri Fault off the Central California coast, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's refusal to require that an emergency evacuation plan provide for the possibility of an earthquake coinciding with a nuclear accident.
The Mothers for Peace, organized to oppose the nuclear plant, claimed that the commission should not have licensed Unit 1 without requiring its owner, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., to consider the danger of a quake's complicating a radiation emergency.
They said the commission failed to enforce emergency planning standards enacted after the 1979 Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania.
The commission approved a license for Diablo Canyon's Unit 1 on Aug. 10, 1984, and three days later the Mothers for Peace won a stay in the appeals court that lasted until New Year's Eve.
A divided three-judge panel lifted the stay after agreeing with the commission that Diablo Canyon's emergency evacuation plan is flexible enough to cope with an earthquake's coinciding with a nuclear accident.
Judge Robert Bork wrote in that opinion: "The probability that (an earthquake and a nuclear accident) will occur contemporaneously in a single week during the life of the plant is approximately one in 6.5 million."
In other action today, the justices:
--Agreed to decide whether a San Francisco cultural organization violated the trademark of the U.S. Olympic Committee when it called a sports event "The Gay Olympics."
--Agreed to decide whether the Constitution protects a clerk-typist in Texas from being fired for saying, after the attempted assassination of President Reagan in 1981, "I hope if they go for him again, they get him."
--Refused to block a ruling that orders the daughter and son-in-law of ousted Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos to testify before a federal grand jury. The court refused to hear an appeal by Irene Marcos Araneta and her husband, Gregorio Araneta III.
--Held that the family of an Illinois millionaire Christian Scientist who died of prostate disease after spiritual healing failed to cure him cannot sue the church for malpractice. The court rejected the appeal of Mary Baumgartner, widow of John Baumgartner.