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Indybay Feature
California Has Its Faults
by Michael Steinberg (blackrainpress [at]
Monday Jul 22nd, 2019 3:52 PM
Two big recent earthquakes shook up all things nuclear in the state, and beyond too
Nuclear Shutdown News July 2019 Michael Steinberg Black Rain Press

Nuclear Shutdown News chronicles the decline and fall of the nuclear power industry in the US and beyond, and highlights the efforts of those working to create a nuclear free world.

San Francisco-October 17, 1989. It was my birthday. I was four stories up in Frisco, in my brother's place, visiting while he was in New York. Looking south, I could see the Goodyear Blimp hovering over Candlestick Park, where the Bay Bridge World Series game-Giants vs.As-was about to start as Friday rush hour approached.

Suddenly, and seemingly out of nowhere, a humungus concussion jolted everything, instantly followed by a violent shock wave that warped through the building's outer wall. I ran for the door out, fearing the walls were coming down and it was all over for me. Just as my hand gripped the doorknob, it all stopped. They said it only lasted 20 seconds, but it seemed like a lifetime.

All this came back to me after the 4th of July holiday twin earthquakes hit SoCal, the 2nd one matching the '89 shaker at 7.1 on the Richter scale, so the biggest one in almost 30 years.

Then on July 16 two more shakers, 4.3 and then 3.5, made themselves felt east of Berkeley. Another 3.5 seismic event occurred near San Jose the next day.

The mighty tremors in the Mojave Desert happened less than 200 miles from the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant's two still operating reactors on the coast of San Luis Obispo in central CA. This site itself is in a tsunami zone riddled with earthquake faults.

After the 2011 Fukushima disaster destroyed three reactors on the coast of Japan, public pressure mounted to shut down Diablo Canyon, and eventually owner Pacific Gas & Electric agreed to close the plant by 2025. Since PG&E then filed for bankruptcy, the madness of allowing a nuke plant to operate upwind of 10 million folks, whose Shoreline fault is less than 1000 feet from where the nuke plant constantly sucks in vast amounts of water, without which the plant is vulnerable to catastrophic meltdown, should be obvious.

Meanwhile, further south at another coastal nuke site, the San Onofre nuclear power plant in Orange County, the San Clemente Greens informs us that the NRC is about to let transfer of high level nuclear waste from the plant into casks that will be buried only 100 feet from the Pacific shoreline for who knows how long.

This diabolical work was suspended last August after one such cask became wedged as it was being lowered down the burial shaft 18 feet above the bottom. Great timing!

On July 18, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that NRC staff, in its infinite wisdom, is "recommending that the agency cut back on inspection at the country's nuclear reactors in a cost-cutting move promoted by the nuclear power industry but denounced by opponents as a threat to public safety."

The following day the Chronicle ran the story "Earthquakes raise concern about nuclear waste. Following the recent quakes Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak told Trump Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, "These significant recent earthquakes so near Yucca Mountain (proposed site for nation's high level nuke dump) show one of the many geologic problems with the site as a nuclear waste repository<" adding Nevada will "fight any continued federal effort to use Nevada as the nation's nuclear dumping ground."

The epicenter of the quakes is 108 miles west of Yucca Mountain, which was felt in Las Vegas. An NBA summer league game there, involving the Golden State Warriors, was going when the second shaker hit, which caused an overhead suspended scoreboard to shake, rattle and roll. The second half of the game was canceled.

Sources: San Clemente Greens,;San Francisco Chronicle,
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