Fire at Rickety Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant Gives California a Scare — Shutdown Slated for 2025

(EnviroNews USA) — San Luis Obispo, California — On Thursday evening, Jan. 25, 2018, a fire erupted at the Diablo Canyon Power Plant on the facility’s water intake valve. PG&E Media Relations Representative John Lindsey blamed the episode on an overheated pump used to clean kelp and ocean debris from incoming water. The fire was put out on-location by the plant’s own fire crew though Cal Fire was called out and assisted with cleanup.

“There is absolutely no risk to plant safety or personnel and both units continue to operate at full power,” tweeted Lindsey just after the incident.

Calling out Cal Fire is part of the plant’s procedure and was done “out of an abundance of caution.” While Lindsey mentioned the overheating pump, the cause of the fire has yet to be confirmed.

Diablo Canyon Power Plant, the last running nuclear energy facility in California, is located in San Luis Obispo County near Avila Beach and several fault lines, including the Hosgri Fault, discovered in 1971 after Diablo Canyon was already under construction.

In an agreement between PG&E and the Public Utility Commission, it is set to be shut down in 2025. PG&E requested the ability to shutdown the facility because it is becoming an economic liability with California’s changing power grid and the rise of renewable energy sources. Shutdown for the plant will begin with Unit 1 in 2024. Diablo Canyon currently provides power to 1.7 million homes.

California is no stranger to accidents at nuclear facilities. The state is home to what multiple experts have termed the worst nuclear accident in U.S. history. In 1959, there was a full-blown meltdown at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory. The event leaked so much radiation into the environment that “levels went clear off the scale” and couldn’t even be measured by the instruments on-site at the time. Radioactive materials, including vast amounts of plutonium and strontium, were vented from July 12 to July 26. Today, the area suffers from an array of strange cancer clusters as lawmakers, advocacy groups and concerned citizens pressure the California Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) to fully clean up the site.

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