The Rochelle Becker commentary on Diablo ("Don't count on Diablo," Dec. 11) is unbelievably myopic. You don’t mention climate collapse!
Focusing on earthquake danger to a nuclear plant has to be weighed against other risks. In this case, the plant makes carbon-free and inexpensive energy for 2 MILLION homes in California, which would be mostly replaced with natural gas if it were shut down.
Wind and solar could only take a third or less of the load. Natural gas is methane, which is an extremely potent greenhouse gas when it leaks in to the atmosphere, which some fraction always does. When it burns, it forms CO2, which is rapidly destroying the ocean, our low-lying areas, and our way of life. Catastrophic climate change is happening as we speak.
Note that the Fukushima plants—old, decrepit, and corruptly managed—never-the-less survived a much more powerful earthquake than what Diablo faces. They had trouble with the tsunami and the power outage, not the earthquake.
The standards used by the plant operators don’t sound that bad to me: a more realistic understanding of the faults, coupled with a more realistic understanding of how forces decrease with distance from quakes.
Replacing Diablo with fracked gas, as you implicitly propose, will increase the danger of earthquakes. Fracking causes little earthquakes, and little quakes cause big ones. You are insane to implicitly suggest doing that!
-- Carl Page - San Francisco