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Nuclear power could devastate

Closing Diablo could prevent a disaster we'll not soon recover from

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I am grateful that New Times published Ellie Ripley's thoughts on Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant ("Safe, clean, and reliable," Dec. 21). It is important to hear multiple sides to any issue. I am glad she has witnessed careful thought and management at the power plant.

However, her comments seem to miss the greater concerns regarding why constructing and maintaining a nuclear power plant near an active earthquake fault—not to mention anywhere else—is unwise.

Ripley was able to effectively outline each of the human foibles that led to the three major accidents at nuclear power plants in the past. Yes, each of these three accidents could have been avoided with better judgment in place.

But the greater point is that these accidents were the result of human error. And no matter how careful authorities are, there will always be some element of natural or man-made danger that hasn't been taken into consideration.

Human error is problematic under everyday engineering projects—homes that were built on eroding cliffs or too close to flood plains, roads constructed on unstable ground, forests that have not been managed properly to avert wild fires, etc. Each of these instances can have devastating consequences when an accident has a serious impact upon life, loss of homes, loss of businesses or jobs—or if it has short- or long-term impacts upon a portion of the environment. However, the planet recovers relatively quickly from these types of disasters, while the environmental impact of a nuclear accident is significantly longer and wider in scope.

Furthermore, beyond the actual impact on lives, health, and the need to abandon radioactive areas immediate to power plants are the imagined fears that have a real impact upon local businesses. If one watches reports from NHK television (Japan's national public broadcasting organization), every week there are reports of farmers, vintners, fisherman, and manufacturers who cannot sell their products, even though they've been deemed "safe," merely from the taint of coming from the Fukushima area.

Imagine not only the impact on human and animal health, but the impact that an accident at Diablo Canyon would have upon property values, agricultural productivity, tourism, and more in a 25 mile exclusion zone. All an event like this would take is one of those scenarios of human error.

This area is so beautiful—until one looks beyond the immediate gifts of nature to the hidden nuclear dangers tucked away between bays. Go stand on the bluffs, breathe in deep, and then let your mind's eye envision what could happen. San Luis Obispo community, please come to terms with PG&E, settle the plant's shutdown, and insist on removal of radioactive materials to a safer storage spot to decay. Δ

Nina Egert is extremely concerned about a nuclear accident. Send your opinions to us via letters@newtimesslo.com and we just might publish them, too.


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