PG&E released this video explaining the seismic qualification of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant.
Diablo Canyon Power Plant plays a major role in helping PG&E generate and deliver some of the nation’s cleanest electricity.
And there’s nothing more important to PG&E and its customers in the San Luis Obispo County region than its safe operation.
Diablo Canyon was built to a higher standard than commercial buildings to ensure that key safety systems continue to operate during an earthquake, said Jearl Strickland, PG&E's director of nuclear projects.
That’s why PG&E constantly works to ensure the plant can withstand a major seismic event – an ongoing process that puts it on the cutting-edge of seismic research and solidifies Diablo Canyon Power Plant as an industry leader.
“Seismic safety for Diablo Canyon wasn’t simply a one-shot deal with the original design and construction of the power plant. Through our long-term seismic program we’ve continued to learn additional knowledge on how earthquakes behave around the world and we continue to apply those lessons learned,” said Jearl Strickland, PG&E’s director of nuclear projects.
PG&E constantly collects new data – this includes using two- and three-dimensional surveys to better understand earthquake faults. An analysis of the research, which used state-of-the-art technologies, was completed in September 2014. The findings demonstrate that Diablo Canyon remains seismically safe and that it is able to withstand the largest potential earthquakes in the region.
Strickland gave Currents a tour of Diablo Canyon, pointing out areas to help it withstand the effects of an earthquake.Unlike regular commercial buildings – built to hold up for occupants to safely escape after an earthquake – Diablo’s structures adhere to a higher standard so that the plant remains intact, and key safety systems continue to operate, after a major seismic jolt.
Nuclear plant safety became even more critical after the Fukushima Daiichi power plant incident in 2011. But there are some major differences between Diablo Canyon and the Japanese plant.
Namely, Diablo’s reactors and safety systems stand 85-feet above sea level – well above predicted tsunami levels — while Daiichi was just 20 feet above. That’s critical because it wasn’t the earthquake, but the subsequent tsunami, that crippled the Japanese plant. And, Diablo has far more back-up systems.Following the Fukushima events, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2012 required all commercial nuclear power plants to re-assess the potential hazard that earthquakes and flooding pose to these facilities.
PG&E completed its assessment of these hazards in 2015 – and the results reflect well for Diablo Canyon. The extensive scientific analyses continue to show that the plant can safely withstand earthquakes, as well as large waves and tsunamis that could potentially occur in the region.
Norm Abrahamson is a PG&E seismologist and an industry expert who serves as an adjunct professor at the University of California.Diablo’s licensing required the establishment of a long-term seismic safety program with experts, such as Abrahamson, who constantly evaluate the plant’s safety, taking into account lessons learned from earthquakes and tsunamis worldwide. Their work results in living-document plans that don’t just sit on a shelf, but are incorporated at Diablo Canyon.
“Part of our job in the geosciences department is to keep up with new seismic and tsunami studies anywhere in the world that can lead to new data, methods or models that are applicable to Diablo Canyon,” said Abrahamson, who has a PhD in geophysics and is an adjunct professor at UC Berkeley and UC Davis. He specializes in seismic hazard analysis and has been with PG&E nearly two decades.
Because of their experience, PG&E’s experts are often called on to share new research information – with government agencies, as well as the nuclear industry.
San Luis Obispo County also benefits from PG&E’s work. The utility’s seismic and tsunami research is shared with local government agencies and enhances the county’s overall emergency readiness plans.
Strickland said PG&E is committed to the safety of the community and the nearly 1,500 plant employees.
“Considering how robust the structures and facilities are constructed here at Diablo Canyon, in the event of a major earthquake, this is the place that I would want to be.”
Anonymous comments will be moderated. Join for free and post now!