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S L O h i n y

SL Ocal Beaches

than the other beaches on the Central Coast. Most of Avila Beach is undeveloped, except for a few blocks adjacent to the beach with homes, hotels, and small businesses, and By: Marty McFly a few recently built upscale housing developments invila Beach is a censusland, near a golf course. Avila designated place in San Luis Beach is also known for its Obispo County, California, hot springs, which are used USA and located about 160 for resort spas. miles northwest of Los AnI’m certain people mistakgeles, and about 200 miles enly pronounce the town’s south of San Franname as ah-VEE-lah cisco. given the name’s The Spanish origin. name However, the Avila comcorrect Spanmemorates ish pronunciaMiguel tion is AH-veeÁvila, who luh. was granted Ordinarily, the Rancho San penultimatesyllable Miguelito in 1842.The of Spanish words is stressed, town was established in the except when indicated by an latter half of the 19th century, accent over a different sylwhen it served as the main lable. In Spanish, Avila is acshipping port for San Luis tually spelled “Ávila” thus indiObispo. cating that the first syllable, Although Avila Beach still not the second, is stressed. has a working commercial In the late 1990s, Unocal fishing pier and the inland began the areas have extensive apple orchards, tourism is now the main industry. There are few historical structures remaining; among the oldest is the Point San Luis Light, built in 1890 after a series of shipping accidents. Very beautiful beach itself is less than 0.5 miles (0.8 km) long and sheltered in San Luis Bay, which is formed by Point San Luis on the west and Fossil Point on the east. Avila Beach faces south and the 600 foot elevation of Point San Luis breaks the prevailing northwesterly winds. It is therefore usually warmer

p e n e s s

Denzel Quarterman


u m i n o u s

Marco Gaytan showing his skills with a soccer ball on the beaches of Avila.

cleanup of decades old oil seepage discovered years earlier from corroding pipes under the township, and which had caused a massive and toxic oil spill under the town. Over 6,750 truckloads of contaminated material was sent to a Bakersfield See Page 16

25+ Shops and Restaurants 5 Nearby Hotels 30+ fun family activities including: horseback riding, deep sea fishing and wine tasting

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SL O a u n i s

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Denzel Quarterman

The SLO Life


By: Marshall Mathers

Pacific Gas & Electric Com-

pany went through six years of hearings, referenda and litigation to have the Diablo Canyon plant approved. A principal concern about the plant is whether it can be sufficiently earthquake-proof. The site was deemed safe when construction started in 1968. By the time of the plant’s completion in 1973, a seismic 10  SLOCAL Magazine March 2013

fault, the Hosgri fault, had been discovered several miles offshore. This fault had a 7.1 magnitude quake 10 miles offshore on November 4, 1927, and thus was capable of generating forces equivalent to approximately 1/16 of those felt in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The company updated its plans and added structural supports designed to reinforce stability in case of earthquake. In September 1981, PG&E

LUIS discovered that a single set of blueprints was used for these structural supports; workers were supposed to have reversed the plans when switching to the second reactor, but did not.According to Charles Perrow, the result of the error was that “many parts were needlessly reinforced, while others, which should have been strengthened, were left untouched.” Nonetheless, on March 19, 1982 the Nuclear Regulatory Commission de-


SL O o i c m i i a t l l e s s

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Avila Beach, Ca

cided not to review its 1978 decision approving the plant’s safety, despite these and other design errors. In response to concern that ground acceleration, or shaking, could cause spillage of submerged fuel rod assemblies which, upon exposure to air, could ignite, PG&E and NRC regulators insist that the foregoing scenario is anticipated and controlled for, and that there is no basis to anticipate spillage. Additional seismic

studies are in process, though completion of those studies is not a condition precedent to re-issuance of the operating licenses for the two onsite units. In October 2008, Unit 2 was taken offline for approximately two days due to a rapid influx of jellyfish at the intake. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s estimate of the risk each year of an earthquake intense enough to cause core damage to the reactor at Diablo Canyon was 1 in 23,810,

according to an NRC study published in August 2010. In April 2011, in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear incident in Japan, PG&E asked the NRC not to issue license renewals until PG&E can complete new seismic studies, which are expected to take at least three years. In February 2013, Unit 2 was shutdown for refueling and upgrading; Unit 1 will refuel beginning in April 2013. Overall, there are approximateSee Page 15

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Denzel Quarterman

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Pickup football games spring up along the beaches of Avila Beach. Denzel Quarterman

e g e n d a r y

Denzel Quarterman

t r i k i n g l y

Small town paradise?

In spring of 2011, State Senator Sam

Blakeslee and US Representative Lois Capps both expressed concern for a renewed safety review. Speaking before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, the congresswoman stated that she believed the “Nuclear Regulatory Commission should stay the license renewal process until the completion of independent, peer reviewed, advanced seismic studies of all faults in the area.” The Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility began circulating a petition to similar 12  SLOCAL Magazine March 2013

By:Ethan Hunt

effect, going further and calling for an outright halt to relicensing. An array of San Luis Obispo-based anti-nuclear groups including Mothers for Peace also called for the closure of Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. Emergency sirens were installed when the plant went operational. Federal law requires an early warning system that radiates out 10 miles from any nuclear facility. The county siren coverage goes farther, extending from Cayucos in the north down to upper Nipomo to

the utilities to immediately begin to fully comply with completion of the state-directed AB 1632 [seismic]studies.”

According to Victor Dricks, senior public affairs officer for NRC Region IV,the Commission conducted a nationwide review of nuclear power plants for their capacity to respond to earthquakes, power outages and other cata-

strophic events, and Diablo was found to have “a high level of preparedness and strong capability in terms of equipment and procedures to respond to severe events.” On June 2, 2011, the NRC announced that it would delay the environmental part of the relicensing application but that it had completed the safety portion. A few days later, the Atomic Safety Licensing Board indicated that it would defer adjustment of the adjudicatory schedule of the four contentions brought by SLOMFP, a community based organization, accordingly. The ASLB made no findings regarding the merits of the contentions. Both parties to the dispute claim these developments as victories: Pacific Gas and Electric as well as San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace.

Denzel Quarterman

the south. All businesses are required to have a siren information sticker in their business generally located within the restrooms. Schools, government offices, and any other public building will have a PAZ card (Protective Action Zone). These cards show the 12 zones of evacuation with zone one being the plant itself. The cards also show the direction of evacuation on the highways. The Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility also works at the level of the California Public Utilities Commission and initiated a letter writing campaign to Governor Jerry Brown, which requests he “instruct the CPUC to rescind the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for ... Diablo Canyon ... and allow them to operate conditionally only under the agreement by

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The SLOcal  

My magazine is all about being in California!.