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Grand jury reports on Diablo and disaster

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On Jan. 31, the 2006-2007 San Luis Obispo County Civil Grand Jury released its first report, "Diablo Canyon: San Luis Obispo's Katrina?"

A summary states that the initial report is "an investigation of county disaster planning related to potential incidents at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant." While the grand jury made several recommendations for improvements including investigation into an alternate emergency exit from Avila Beach, increased availability of self-sufficiency information in an emergency, and an update/review of emergency information available in a local telephone book the overall outlook was positive.

According to a news release, "In general, the grand jury found the County Office of Emergency Services, which coordinates all emergency response efforts, to be outstanding."

The 11-page report details how the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina prompted citizens around the United States to ask whether something similar could happen in their communities.

"In San Luis Obispo, we live in proximity to one of only two nuclear power plants in the state of California," the report reads. "Although there has never been an alert or a site area emergency in the 22 years that Diablo Canyon Power Plant has been in operation, the possibility exists. If there were a disaster at Diablo, would our emergency response system respond effectively?"

The report goes on to note that although previous grand juries have looked into the Office of Emergency Services (OES) before, this study focuses particularly on planning related to the plant.

To investigate, grand jurors toured the plant and county Emergency Operations Center listened to various presentations from officials conducted interviews with the deputy county administrative officer, the PG&E emergency planning coordinator, three board members from Mothers for Peace, and the SLO County and City Community Emergency Response Team program coordinators and reviewed a slew of manuals, documents, reports, and more.

The report examines evacuation routes, communication in an emergency, special needs emergency planning, sheltering, and potassium iodide distribution.

"San Luis Obispo County Office of Emergency Services is widely recognized as one of the best in the state of California, as well as the western region," the report states.

The OES, the San Luis Obispo County health officer, and the county's board of supervisors are all due to respond to the report.

A full transcript of the report is available at www.slocourts.net/grandjury.

 

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