LOS ANGELES (AP) — An environmental group asked federal regulators Tuesday to idle California's last operating nuclear plant to review whether its reactors can withstand strong shaking from nearby earthquake faults.
Friends of the Earth, an advocacy group critical of the nuclear power industry, filed a petition with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission asking for a hearing on seismic risks at the Diablo Canyon plant. The group says the plant is violating its federal operating license.
Neighboring faults, one about 650 yards from the plant, pose "a serious safety risk to the public and the environment," the 92-page petition said.
The NRC, which oversees the nation's commercial nuclear power industry, and Diablo Canyon owner Pacific Gas and Electric Co., have said the nearly three-decade-old reactors, which produce enough electricity for more than 3 million people annually, are safe and that the facility complies with its operating license, including earthquake safety standards.
A statement from NRC spokeswoman Lara Uselding said the agency would review the petition. PG&E spokesman Blair Jones said the environmental group "is mischaracterizing the facts."
"The plant was built with seismic safety in mind ... and is designed to withstand the largest potential earthquakes that could occur in the region," Jones said. "Major components can continue to perform their safety functions during and after" a strong earthquake.
The petition was filed after The Associated Press disclosed Monday that a senior federal nuclear expert is urging the NRC to shut down the seaside plant until it can determine whether the twin reactors can withstand shaking from any of several nearby faults.
Michael Peck, who for five years was the NRC's lead inspector at the plant, says in a 42-page, confidential report that the NRC is not applying the safety rules it set out for the plant's operation.
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