Nuclear Protest At Diablo Canyon
Publication Year: 2006
Published by: University of Nevada Press
List of Illustrations
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Sitting on the porch of his California home back in 1997, gazing down at the forested valley below, veteran Sierra Club activist Martin Litton had offered me a trip to see Diablo Canyon firsthand. Given that Diablo, a nuclear site owned by Pacific Gas and Electric on the central California...
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You should always visit a place that you hope to write about. For the chance to explore the Diablo lands, I thank Sally Krenn and Sue Benech, biologists on contract to Pacific Gas and Electric Company in the late 1990s. Sue kindly provided me with a tour of the coastline, stopping off to watch sea otters, brown pelicans, and a wily coyote. Dedicated...
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From its beginnings at Leggett, 190 miles north of San Francisco, California Highway 1 follows the contours of the coast so closely that, at times, it nearly falls into chilly Pacific waters. On automobile maps, a red line denoting highway and a blue trace indicating shoreline together mark the limits of westerly travel on continental American soil—or, more accurately, asphalt...
One. Diablo Canyon Wilds
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If you like to hike and want to experience the diversity of landscape and life that characterize this spectacular area, join docents for a seven-mile round-trip along the Pecho Coast Trail,” invited a 1990s trail leaflet distributed by pg&e volunteers. By calling 805 /541-trek, visitors could reserve their space on a guided walk across the south side of the Pecho headland— their chance to discover firsthand the intertwining history of nature...
Two. From Cattle Ranch to Atomic Homestead
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In the immediate years following World War II, Diablo remained a landscape of anonymity. Traditional small-time ranching and agricultural pursuits continued on the coastline. A slow pace of change, together with Diablo’s geographical isolation, meant that few citizens had reason to pay heed to events on the headland. In the 1960s control of Diablo passed from one pioneer to another. The meaning of Diablo shifted dramatically...
Three. Local Mothers, Earthquake Country, and the “Nuclear Center of America”
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Converting Diablo Canyon into a viable nuclear complex officially began in June 1968 after Pacific Gas received its construction permit for the Unit 1 reactor (the permit for Unit 2 followed in 1970). During the first year, the site area was leveled and paved, and land excavated where buildings would soon arise. Diablo Creek played host to the plant’s switchyard...
Four. The Showdown
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In the summer of 1976 a new style of environmental protest surfaced on the East Coast of the United States. A collection of citizen groups and local environmental organizations formed the Clamshell Alliance in response to plans for a nuclear plant at Seabrook, New Hampshire. Legal opposition had failed to dampen the enthusiasm of the Public Services Company for two 1,150-megawatt reactors on the coast, and with construction about to begin, the Alliance chose nonviolent...
Five. Living Alongside the Machine
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She’s back!!—but only to face . . . disaster at diablo reactor!” read the front cover of a 1982 Marvel comic. A menacing combination of a nuclear plant waiting to go on-line, a pile of uranium, and an evil masked man known as “The Negator” heralded the return of Marvel superheroine She-Hulk. The Negator planned to “destroy la in atomic holocaust” by sabotaging the nuclear plant on the Pecho Coast. “Diablo reactor shall encounter—the China Syndrome,” the masked man threatened. Atomic matters were hardly new to the pages of Marvel Comics...
Six. Reconnecting the Headland
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Whether out of an ingrained desire for order, control, or property, we, as a people, love to parcel up territory, compartmentalize the natural, and carve out boundaries in the land. Recall the great stampede westward in the nineteenth century, where thousands of emigrants rushed to stake their claim to 160-acre plots; the orderly grid design of modern cities replete with commercial, residential, and industrial zones; or the...
Conclusion. The Energy Bomb and Conservation Fallout
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Once described by the Sierra Club as both “a treeless slot” and “the last example of pastoral California coast,” Diablo Canyon shows how far conservationists can disagree over environmental issues. Club directors locked horns over coastal wilderness and atomic development. But contrasting takes on the worth of Diablo were hardly confined to the...
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Page Count: 256
Illustrations: 4 photos, 7 line art, 1 map
Publication Year: 2006