California nuclear plants have no earthquake plans

View of the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant in north San Diego County on March 15, 2011 (AFP Photo / Mark Ralston)
US regulators insist American nuclear facilities can withstand major earthquakes, but the fact remains the plants are not required to include earthquakes in their emergency response plans.

From Obama to government nuclear experts, everyone claimed US facilities are fully prepared if disaster were to strike.

In California the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant has continually been cited as earthquake prone, yet no emergency plan exists in the case of a quake. The plant, built over a quarter century ago, sits less than a mile from a fault line along the coast. Not only does the plant merely not have a plan in place, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission fought against requiring such a plan.

Additionally, the subject has even been heard in US courts. In the 1980’s the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, DC ruled 5-4 that there was no legal or public safety reason require plants formulate earthquake disaster plans.

The plant at Diablo Canyon does now have a basic procedure in place, which was used following a quake in 2003. But no official plan is public.

As Japan continues to struggle with its nuclear facilities following the earthquake and tsunami many American are becoming increasingly worried about nuclear plants in the US. Could such a disaster happen in America?

Yes – claimed many experts.

Many are calling on the US government to immediately review safety protocols at plants across the nation.

They're more concerned about the protection of the plants, and installation of further plants, than they are about public safety. The president should be saying, 'I want every single plant reviewed,'" Victor Gilinsky, who once served on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, told the Huffington Post.

To date, opponents of such plans argue no plan is needed because the facilities are built to withstand earthquakes and no plan would therefore be needed.

Prior to the recent quake in Japan, Japanese officials claimed their nuclear plants could withstand quakes as well, but even they had emergency plans in place.