San Luis Obispo Tribune: Diablo ideas hit funding problem
By David Sneed
* County staff report on decision for Diablo Canyon
Citing a lack of money and personnel, the county will not carry out
the majority of recommendations recently made by a civil grand jury
to improve public safety in the event of a radiation release at
Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.
While the nonbinding grand jury report called "Diablo Canyon: San
Luis Obispo's Katrina'" was laudatory of the county's emergency
planning regarding the nuclear plant, it recommended four
Most concerned increasing public information about emergency
"They're great ideas, but it comes down to funding and resource
allocation," said Ron Alsop, a county emergency services coordinator
who wrote the county's response to the grand jury report.
The grand jury's most expensive recommendation is to upgrade a road
between Avila Beach and Shell Beach so it can be used as an
alternate evacuation route from Avila Beach, which is at greatest
risk of being affected by a Diablo Canyon radiation leak.
A road between Cave Landing Road in Avila Beach and Bluff Drive in
Shell Beach was destroyed by landslides in 1995. It would cost
between $5 million and $6 million to repair it to the point that
cars could drive on it, Alsop said. As it is now, only people
evacuating on foot would be able to use the road.
"It is currently not feasible to reconstruct the road or bridge over
the gap left by landslides," Alsop stated in his staff report to
county supervisors, who will consider the county's response Tuesday.
County administrators will also not follow another grand jury
recommendation that calls for emergency preparedness information to
be mailed annually to county households.
Alsop said such a step is unnecessary because there is an abundance of emergency preparedness information from a variety of agencies
available to the public, especially since the Sept. 11, 2001,
terrorist attacks. This includes a section in the AT&T telephone
book tailored specifically for Diablo Canyon.
"It sounds like a simple thing to do," Alsop said. "But it would
just require us to have an increase in service level, which means
going to the supervisors for more money."
Funding is also a problem in carrying out a third grand jury
suggestion. The county Office of Emergency Services is planning a
workshop in June to give emergency planning information to
institutional care providers. The jury recommended the workshop be
expanded to include people with disabilities or their caretakers who
live independently.
Alsop is trying to line up state grants and other funding sources to
expand the scope of the June workshop. Without it, an expanded
workshop would be beyond the resources of the county Office of
Emergency Services, he said.
Last year, it cost the county $5,000 to put on an emergency planning
workshop for 135 people, said Tracey Vardas, another emergency
services coordinator. This year the county would like to expand it
to 300 people to meet the grand jury's recommendation.
It's not known how much that would cost.
The county has already complied with a grand jury recommendation to issue an information sheet to county obstetricians and pediatricians about the thyroid-protecting drug potassium iodide.
The grand jury also urged the county to make sure the Diablo Canyon
information in the telephone book is accurate; that's been done, Alsop said.
The county response to the grand jury is included in the board's
consent agenda, which is reserved for noncontroversial items.
Supervisors will not address the item specifically unless one of
them asks to discuss it.
What do you think of the county's decision?