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No big quake safety concern at California nuclear plant, regulators say

No big quake safety concern at California nuclear plant, regulators say
The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant near San Luis Obispo doesn't face a significant earthquake safety risk, federal regulators have decided. (David Paul Morris / Bloomberg)

There is no immediate or significant earthquake safety concern associated with California's last remaining nuclear power plant, federal regulators have decided.

A U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission file released Wednesday contains the response to a former federal inspector’s argument that the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant near San Luis Obispo should be shut down until it can be determined whether the facility can stand up to an earthquake off the Central Coast.

Michael Peck, former senior resident inspector at Diablo Canyon, made the case in July 2013 that it is unsafe to keep running the plant without evaluating whether it can withstand quakes from nearby faults that are now believed to be capable of producing more ground shaking than was known when the plant was built and licensed.

However, according to the regulatory commission's chief operating officer, Mark Satorius, Peck doesn't think earthquakes pose significant risk at the nuclear plant.

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At a June 2014 meeting, "you and I agreed that there is not now nor has there been an immediate or significant safety concern" associated with the issue, Satorius said Tuesday in a letter to Peck.

Peck's concerns centered on the methods used to perform safety evaluations rather than on the evaluations' conclusions, a commission spokeswoman told the Los Angeles Times.

Peck, who still works for the commission, could not be reached for comment.

A fault -- known as the Shoreline fault -- was discovered just offshore from the plant in 2008. Federal regulators concluded that the plant's current design would be able to stand up to any earthquakes the fault might produce.

Times staff writer Abby Sewell contributed to this report.

For more news, follow @raablauren on Twitter.

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