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Diablo Canyon's seismic safety is focus of US Senate committee

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The safety of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant is being considered by members of the U.S. Senate. The Committee on Environment and Public Works heard testimony Wednesday from Central Coast political and community leaders.

Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara) addressed committee chair Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California) regarding recent earthquake information that suggests the power plant is not safe.

"In my view, this independent analysis is the most critical part of the process," said Capps. "Up until the release of this new data, the only seismic studies available were from the internal PG&E studies and the NRC's own review of those studies."

Former Republican California Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee, who has a Ph.D. in seismic studies, also addressed the panel saying the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has failed to properly address the current seismic threat. He says the community can not wait another four years for the NRC and PG&E to study the problem.

"We are very familiar with paralysis by analysis," said Blakeslee. "The threat now is unequivocally so great as a result of these new studies, that action is required immediately."

Representative Capps prefaced her comments with a nod to the plant's economic importance.

"Owned and operated by PG&E, Diablo Canyon is an important economic driver in San Luis Obispo County, supporting hundreds of quality jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity," Capps said.

Representatives from the NRC said appropriate protections are in the works following the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan. Senator Boxer refuted that claim by showing a chart of safety measures yet to be completed.

Boxer repeated several times that she wants to see the NRC implement safety reform in order to continue the production of safe nuclear power.