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Department of Geography
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UC Santa Barbara Geography / News & Events / Department News

October 11, 2011 - Devil in the Canyon?

In the wake of Japan’s recent nuclear plant disasters, Germany's coalition government has announced a reversal of policy that will see all the country's nuclear power plants phased out by 2022, while Britain's Chief Nuclear Inspector has just announced that UK nuclear plants are safe and that the UK government strategy for building new plants is adequate. Needless to say, this controversial topic is being hotly debated in the U.S. as well, and the case of the nearby Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant is of particular interest to Central Coast residents.

“On Thursday, October 13th, at 7pm, KCSB-FM will host Devil in the Canyon: Downwind from the Diablo Canyon Power Plant, a town hall meeting on the controversial Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant, which is located at Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo, California. Part of a year-long series of radio programs and public events commemorating KCSB’s 50th anniversary, this community discussion at the Faulkner Gallery in the Santa Barbara Central Library will also be recorded for later broadcast.

KCSB welcomes the general public to participate in the forum, which is free and open to the public. Confirmed speakers include Dan Hirsch (of the Committee to Bridge the Gap) and Liz Apfelberg (of San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace). Invited guest Lois Capps, U.S. Representative for California’s 23rd congressional district, is unable to attend, but will prerecord a special statement on the power plant just for this event. Representatives of Pacific Gas & Electric, the corporate utility that operates the two reactors at the Diablo Canyon Power Plant, respectfully declined to participate in the panel discussion.

Since its development during the 1960s, the Diablo Canyon facility has generated controversy because of its proximity to major seismic fault lines. In the wake of last spring’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan, safety concerns and calls for the decommissioning of Diablo Canyon have increased. At the same time, proponents have argued for expanding the use of nuclear energy, citing both the depletion of natural resources and political instability in oil-producing countries.

Dan Hirsch, who teaches at the University of California, Santa Cruz, is the President of the Committee to Bridge the Gap, an organization studying nuclear safety for more than forty years. He will address safety issues at the Diablo Canyon plant specifically and nuclear energy more generally. Liz Apfelberg, an organizer with San Luis Obispo’s Mothers for Peace, will recount that organization’s history of activism since the launching of the facility and current litigation over its proposed relicensing” (source).

Image 1 for article titled "Devil in the Canyon?"
Poster announcing the KCSB forum on the controversial Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant this coming Thursday.
Image 2 for article titled "Devil in the Canyon?"
Diablo Canyon Power Plant is an electricity-generating nuclear power plant at Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo County, California. The plant has two Westinghouse-designed 4-loop pressurized-water nuclear reactors operated by Pacific Gas & Electric. The facility is located on about 750 acres (300 ha) in Avila Beach, California. Together, the twin 1,100 MWe reactors produce about 18,000 gigawatt hours of electricity annually, supplying the electrical needs of more than 2.2 million people, sent along the Path 15 500-kV lines that connect to this plant. It was built directly over a geological fault line, and is located near a second fault. Diablo Canyon was originally designed to withstand a 6.75 magnitude earthquake from four faults, including the nearby San Andreas and Hosgri faults, but was later upgraded to withstand a 7.5 magnitude quake (Wikipedia: Diablo Canyon Power Plant)
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