The Difficult Truth of Diablo Canyon
Sometimes we tell a truth that people don’t want to hear because it’s controversial, it doesn’t meet a certain political agenda, or it makes people uncomfortable. This is the case with the aging and dangerous Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in San Luis Obispo County. We spoke an inconvenient truth about this ticking time bomb, and a newspaper didn’t want to hear it. So, we’ll share this truth with you.
On March 29, the New Times, a weekly alternative newspaper in San Luis Obispo, finally printed a letter written by Jerry B. Brown, Ph.D., director of the Academy’s Safe Energy Project, debunking a series of falsehoods about Diablo Canyon published in a previous Opinion Letter to the New Times by Ellie Ripley, a self-proclaimed “fan of Diablo.” We could not let these lies stand, and Jerry, a passionate authority on nuclear power and Diablo Canyon, felt it imperative to correct.
We understand that Diablo Canyon has its supporters in San Luis Obispo County, because it is a major employer and helps the local economy, but … lies are lies. The Academy is not in the “fake news” business.
Jerry submitted a detailed response of about 500 words to the New Times in reply to Ripley’s 1,076 -word letter, but the paper did not act and did not publish his reply. After some phone calls to the editor, the New Times requested that Jerry’s reply be pared down to a mere 250 words before the editor finally would print it.
Jerry edited his reply letter to 244 words and it was published. However, the paper deleted a key sentence which contained an essential but highly disturbing truth. This is the sentence that was censored and cut: “And, a peer-reviewed study by renowned radiation chemist Dr. Christopher Busby found a 28 percent increase in infant mortality rates in the zip codes near the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.”
As this Busby article was published in a peer-review medical journal, there was no reason for the paper to cut this one sentence, except for either outright censorship and/or a fear of offending the powers that be in San Luis Obispo. Either way, it’s an outrage! Jerry noted that over the decades he has worked on the radiation-health issue, the media has backed away many, many times from publishing anything linking radiation from nuclear power plants and cancer.
This is all the more reason the Academy must win its lawsuit against Diablo Canyon. We want to be able to say that the State of California has deemed it important to investigate this radiation-health issue through an Environmental Impact Report. Dr. Busby’s research and findings matter, whether or not they rock the boat in San Luis Obispo County.
Here is the 244-word version of the piece that Jerry wrote, with nothing censored, so you can read the truth.
Unsafe, Dirty and Unnecessary
Ellie Ripley’s Letter of 12-21-17 is filled with misleading and inaccurate information about the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant. I wish to correct her most glaring factual errors.
First, Ripley says, “There are no dirty emissions released into the air that can spread freely into the atmosphere.” In reality, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission allows all commercial nuclear power plants to routinely release radioactive gases and liquids. And, a peer-reviewed study by renowned radiation chemist Dr. Christopher Busby found a 28 percent increase in infant mortality rates in the zip codes near the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.
Second, Ripley claims there are no safety issues at the plant. In 2013, the NRC identified Diablo Canyon Unit 1 as “the third most embrittled reactor in the United States.” This means it’s less likely to be able to handle the stress of a sudden shock, such as the rapid water cooling of the reactor in an emergency. A Fukushima-like earthquake-tsunami could cause a core meltdown.
Ripley characterizes closing Diablo Canyon as “environmental hypocrisy.” In fact, Diablo’s antiquated cooling system sucks in 2.5 billion gallons of water daily and discharges it back into the ocean, killing 1.5 billion fish annually. THAT’S environmental hypocrisy!
Finally, she claims renewables will not be ready by 2025 to replace Diablo’s lost power. PG&E affirms it can replace Diablo Canyon with 100 percent renewable energy by then.