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PG&E asks to delay nuclear plant's relicensing until after seismic tests

April 12, 2011|By David Sarno, Los Angeles Times

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has asked federal authorities to delay the license renewal proceedings for its Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant until more thorough seismic testing of the area can be performed.

In the wake of the earthquake and nuclear crises in Japan, government and environmental groups have called for more seismic testing around California's nuclear plants.

PG&E applied in 2009 to renew the licenses for its two nuclear reactors in San Luis Obispo County, which expire in 2024 and 2025. The renewal application process can take years.

"In light of recent events at the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant, and the considerable public concern regarding the need to assure the seismic safety at DCPP, PG&E has decided it is most prudent to have completed certain seismic studies at [Diablo Canyon] prior to issuance" of the renewed federal operating licenses, the utility said in a statement.

Though Diablo Canyon's engineers assured public officials in the late 1960s that the area around the plant had only "insignificant faults," at least two faults have been discovered since its construction, including one found in 2008 that is less than a mile away.

david.sarno@latimes.com

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