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Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant and How it Might be Killing You

In my opinion, Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power plant is an unacceptable risk, particularly to the people of California, but as Fukushima has proven, to the entire planet as well.

I think it is imperative that the California Legislature hold public hearings on the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant and the impact it has on the health of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo County residents.

World Business Academy’s “Diablo Canyon Radiation Health Report,” released March 3, 2014, found increased cancer rates and declining health trends including rising infant mortality and low birth weights.

Specifically, the report found that since the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant opened in the mid-1980s, San Luis Obispo has changed from a relatively low-cancer to a high-cancer county. It also found a significant rise in infant cancers, deaths and low birth weights in SLO and Santa Barbara Counties after the reactors began operating. In the decades after the Rancho Seco nuclear plant (near Sacramento) closed in 1989, cancer rates declined and other health trends improved dramatically.

In addition to these health findings, the Academy found that in the 30 years that Diablo Canyon has been operating, no governmental agency has ever investigated its impact on the health of people living near the reactors — not the SLO Health Department, not the State Department of Health, not PG&E and not the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. PG&E and the nuclear industry have tried to dismiss this report by the childish approach of name-calling (i.e., “junk science” or “fear mongering”), showing a blatant disregard for the health of their neighbors, customers and employees. The reason PG&E resorts to the 5th grade tactics of name-calling is that (1) they have done zero health studies of their own; (2) they have no research that shows that Diablo Canyon is NOT harmful to people living nearby; and, therefore, (3) they prefer to “shoot the messenger,” rather than seriously discuss this issue.
Maile Ellington is a Santa Barbara resident.

Views expressed on the opinion page do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Nexus or UCSB and are primarily submitted by students.

A Version of this article appeared in the Monday, May 19, 2014 print issue of the Daily Nexus.

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Views expressed on the Opinion page do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Nexus or UCSB.
Opinions are submitted primarily by students.


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15 Responses to Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant and How it Might be Killing You

  1. Jan

    June 1, 2014 at 1:01 am

    I see there are some Ogilvy & Mather fahguts on here spewing the false line for their pro nuke masters. I hope your misinformation kills you before it kills the rest of us.


    • john coward

      June 3, 2014 at 9:00 am

      109 counts per minute, Diablo Canyon site, and upward today, june 3,2014.
      Why, does any one guess if front door is open.
      Radiation Network, volunteers on web reported.
      if 5-8 counts per minute is normal.

  2. Randy Dillehay

    May 22, 2014 at 4:10 am

    I have been a nuclear worker since 1974.Everyone should educate their selves better before downing nuclear power. The NRC provides oversight of the nuclear industry. Nuclear power is very safe! I live within 15 miles of a operating plant and have no worries. Nuclear power is safe.

  3. John

    May 21, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    I’m so glad that China is investing in 30 brand new gen III AP1000 nuclear power plants to support their growing infrastructure with clean carbon-free power and technical jobs. They need the power for all the factories that produce the solar panels that they sell to us! We barely produce anything here in California and really have no need for the power capacity that their economy requires anyway. I’d rather be a consumer of the goods and keep the manufacturing across the pond. Producing solar panels creates large quantities of very toxic waste – another good reason to manufacture them in China and not here!

  4. Ryan Keeley-Cain

    May 20, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    The report released recently by World Business Academy on the dangers of Diablo Canyon has gathered a lot of attention. Unfortunately, the report, which at first glance seems credible, is fraught with misleading information and was generously quoted in a variety of forms and by numerous news outlets without being fully investigated. The author of the report has already been discredited for misinformation from previous reports he authored and he was once again discredited by the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department in “RESPONSE TO A REPORT ON HEALTH CONCERNS TO RESIDENTS OF SAN LUIS OBISPO AND SANTA BARBARA COUNTIES DUE TO CONTINUED OPERATION OF DIABLO CANYON NUCLEAR POWER PLANT”. Throughout this response, the Public Health Department refutes his claims and point to his selective use of data to create a case. His generalizations have no backing or specifics and the trends he claims have no direct links to the information he presents.

  5. Roger Sowell

    May 20, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    Diablo Canyon nuclear plant has its own share of problems, not least is the risk of damage from earthquake. Nuclear power, in general has many problems including (one) modern nuclear power plants are uneconomic to operate compared to natural gas and wind energy, (two) they produce preposterous pricing if they are the sole power source for a grid, (three) they cost far too much to construct, (four) use 4 times as much water for cooling than better alternatives, (five) nuclear fuel makes them difficult to shut down and requires very costly safeguards, (six) they are built to huge scale of 1,000 to 1,600 MWe or greater to attempt to reduce costs via economy of scale, (seven) an all-nuclear grid will lose customers to self-generation, (eight) smaller and modular nuclear plants have no benefits due to reverse economy of scale, (nine) large-scale plants have very long construction schedules even without lawsuits that delay construction, (ten) nuclear plants do not reach 50 or 60 years life because they require costly upgrades after 20 to 30 years that do not always perform as designed, (eleven) France has 85 percent of its electricity produced via nuclear power but it is subsidized, is still almost twice as expensive as prices in the US, and is only viable due to exporting power at night rather than throttling back the plants during low demand, (twelve) nuclear plants cannot provide cheap power on small islands, and (13) US nuclear power plants are heavily subsidized (at least six ways) yet cannot compete. For more details, see the series of articles at http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-truth-about-nuclear-power-part-one.html

  6. Ace Hoffman

    May 20, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    As Arnie Gundersen says, nuclear power can have 40 good years and one bad day. That bad day can result in a trillion-dollar loss of homes, farmland and lives in the Santa Barbara area. On top of that, it leaves a waste stream which lasts for hundreds of thousands of years, yet the best plan for storing the waste seems to always be to just encase it in lead, steel and concrete and wait for a better idea to come along. But Rocketry is too dangerous and too expensive to remove the waste that way, and the earth too unstable to keep it here. We are stuck between a rock, the devil, and the deep blue sea. The best answer is to close Diablo Canyon immediately, before a major accident, before another dry cask is needed, before another dime is wasted on the wrong technology. As for the need for “baseline” energy, offshore wave-powered solutions could be implemented, offshore compressed air balloons are being tested elsewhere with off-the-shelf components, lake storage is being used around the world, and dozens of other clean solution all exist to convert intermittent renewable energy into “baseline.” The last thing any society needs is a target for terrorists, but that’s what Diablo Canyon is.

    • John

      May 21, 2014 at 2:04 pm

      Actually, Diablo is gem… a well maintained plant that has been built, operated, and maintained by the residents of SLO county for 30 years. Generations of SLO residents – grandparents, parents, and now their children have worked at, operated and maintained the plant in stellar condition; it has been a mainstay of the local economy. The plant and its safe operation is a credit to the people of San Luis Obispo county who take pride in our asset and work hard to maintain and operate it safely for the benefit of California, our county and our families. It is is not a threat, it is a jewel, and we are proud of it.

      • Carole

        May 21, 2014 at 3:06 pm

        Even if Diablo operates “safely” it is unsafe and destructive for not only our county, but for the entire planet and our future. Think about how nuclear fuel is created (tons and tons of water in an increasingly water-stressed world, plus lots and lots of electricity) and transported. The fuel needs to be replaced. Highly radioactive waste is created. It has nowhere to go so is piling up right there on the seismically active coast… I could go on and on. Nuke supporters have severe tunnel vision.

        • Joe

          May 22, 2014 at 1:25 pm

          Tunnel vision just like people who drive hybrids and electric cars. All those hybrid electric batteries are made of highly toxic materials in overseas plants that are winding up in our landfills by the thousands of tons! Slowly leaching into our groundwater and poisoning our children. I wish electric car owners would wake up and realize the damage they are causing to our environment as well as the unhealthy demand for additional power plants that they create. :(

          • Jan

            June 1, 2014 at 1:04 am

            Either accept the small steps society’s taking towards an attempt at green energy or stfu and feed your kids strontium strawberries, and atrazine water, Joe the con artist.

    • Charlotte Reese

      June 17, 2014 at 4:19 pm

      I agree with you. Now how do we get this done? I am trying to get a petition going. I need to know who is the contact name? This is a hazard and it is leaking.

  7. D. Morton

    May 19, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    This Radiation and Public Health project also cited in the comments is led by a guy named Dr. Joseph Mangano. At this point in his career, the academic and practicing medical communities have stripped his work of any legitimacy.

  8. D. Morton

    May 19, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    If the author thinks it immature to be called a fear-monger using junk science, then instead of bemoaning others as childish, perhaps she should try not using junk science to fear-monger. So while its nice to see this middle-aged bourgeois pseudo-hippie from Bend, Oregon (with a very public Facebook profile) adopt this as her “cause,” this old SB loc would advise that she not cite as impartial a study by an organization whose stated purpose is the closure of Diablo Canyon.

    Could the increased cancer rate in SLO county, if assumed true, be because the entire Central Coast is aging as young UCSB and Cal Poly grads who want to use their degrees move elsewhere? Could the reverse in Sac be true because that city is getting younger? This study is immediately dismissible simply for not making that control, and that’s before you consider that they didn’t even run a confidence interval on their numbers. In the meantime, Diablo provides critical baseline power for the grid. Baseline power is necessary and can only be provided by coal, nat gas, petroleum, nuclear, or hydro. Without it you cannot have intermittent renewable sources also on the grid. That’s just how electrons work. Its science, not political opinion. If you don’t believe me, I’m sure that a physics teacher at my alma matter (San Marcos H.S.) would be happy to let you help yourself to a science book.

    Given the necessary for baseline power to maximize the amount of renewables that can be used, what suggestions might you have to replace Diablo. Would this author or the World Business Academy support building a 2,000 MW natural gas facility on the Central Coast? I thought not. Our part of CA’s grid is already taxed. Shutting down a plant that produces safe, inexpensive energy in a state where electric bills are already second-highest in the lower 48 is silly and irresponsible, particularly when using junk science to fear monger.

  9. Ana

    May 19, 2014 at 6:43 am

    Thank you Maile Ellington for this honest appraisal.

    Karl Grossman, in his book called “Cover Up” said this about nuclear power plants and health risks:

    “There’s been new research documenting cancer and other health maladies in people who live near nuclear plants. Nuclear plants need not undergo an accident to kill. They emit “routine releases” of radioactive poisons including xenon, krypton and tritium because nuclear plants are not sealed. Once, nuclear scientists spoke of a “threshold dose” of radiation and maintained that below that there was no harm. Now it is acknowledged that any amount of radioactivity can lead to illness and death. The Radiation and Public Health Project (www. radiation.org) has documented rates of cancer significantly higher for distances of up to 40 miles around nuclear plants.”

    You can download his book free here:


    And for all concerned, http://www.enenews.com is a great resource for more information on what happens when nuclear energy goes wrong!