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Seismic monitoring plan for Diablo Canyon nuclear plant approved

April 12, 2012 | 12:39 pm


Coastal regulators have approved plans by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to install an array of seismic monitoring devices on the seafloor off the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in San Luis Obispo County.

The devices, which would record earthquake-generated ground movements and sounds from several faults close to shore, are part of $64 million in advanced seismic studies the utility company is required to complete in order to renew its license to operate the facility through 2045.

The project was approved Wednesday by the California Coastal Commission at a meeting in Ventura.

But the remainder of the company's seismic study plans must be approved by at least nine other state and federal agencies, a PG&E spokesman said.

Under the plan, six monitoring devices connected to 11 miles of underwater data and power cables would be installed on the ocean floor, much of it in a pair of state marine protected areas. Some cables would cross delicate rocky reef habitat and could remain there for up to 10 years, according to the panel.

Because of concerns that the monitoring instruments will disturb the seafloor and snag fishing gear, the coastal panel required PG&E to contribute $33,600 to a UC Davis program that removes lost fishing gear from California's central coast.

Diablo Canyon, a two-reactor facility near Avila Beach that began operating in 1985, provides power for about 3 million homes in Central and Northern California and is currently licensed to operate through 2025.

The San Onofre nuclear plant, located near the Orange County-San Diego County border, has been shut down since January because of system failures.


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Photo: Diablo Canyon nuclear plant. Credit: Los Angeles Times