The major concern, as the facility’s license is up for a renewal that could keep it operational into 2045: Diablo Canyon – the last nuclear plant operating in the state – sits along 900 beachfront acres, and is surrounded by fault lines, such as the Hosgri Fault discovered in 1971. This fault could produce a 7.5 magnitude earthquake, according to the U.S. Geological Service.
That’s the maximum the facility is built to withstand.
Meanwhile, running 2000 feet from the reactor is the Shoreline Fault, discovered in 2008, which could potentially cause more ground motion than the plant was designed to handle.
A single earthquake could put 500,000 people living within 50 miles of the plant at risk of nuclear contamination. When an earthquake and tsunami hit the Fukushima plant, 156,000 people were displaced because of release of radioactive materials.
“Diablo Canyon is a seismically safe facility, was built with earthquake safety at the forefront, and can withstand the largest ground motions, or shaking, that could be expected to be generated by any nearby faults,” PG&E, Diablo Canyon’s operator, told Business Insider when asked for comment.