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Court Denies Bid to Curtail Onofre Plant

Associated Press

Environmentalists trying to block a Southern California nuclear plant they say may not be strong enough to withstand any nearby earthquake have lost a Supreme Court appeal.

The court, without comment, refused Monday to revoke an operating license for two units of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station near San Clemente.

Last September, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals here upheld a decision by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to grant a license to the plant.

The appeals court said the Friends of the Earth, an environmental group headed by August S. Carstens of San Diego, was given “a full and fair” hearing by the commission.

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The environmentalists said the appeals court “deferred almost blindly to the NRC because the case involved uncertainty in science and technology.” They said the ruling “opens wide the door for the federal bureaucrats to institute an unchecked reign of technocracy” whenever there are scientific questions.

Friends of the Earth said the commission unfairly threw out evidence that the Cristianitos fault, about one mile from the plant, was “active” and capable of producing a major earthquake.

“Eight earthquakes may have occurred on this fault since 1973,” the environmental group said.

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Justice Department lawyers, in urging the high court to reject the group’s appeal, said the commission determined that the fault has been inactive for more than 125,000 years.


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