The Energy Net

Abalone Alliance Story:
A brief Nuclear history
40 Years of California Activism
Diablo Canyon Timeline Part I:
Diablo Canyon Timeline Part II:
Diablo Canyon: Priesthoods and Power
1981 Diablo Canyon Blockade Slapp suit
Circle Around for Peace
Abalone Alliance Goals

The Diablo Canyon Timeline

Part I: 1963-1981

The following is a detailed timeline of events surrounding the construction and operation of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Facility near San Luis Obispo(SLO). This facility, next to the Chernobyl disaster is probably the most controversial nuclear facility in the world due to intense public opposition.


  • Feb 27 Pacific Gas and Electric(PG&E) announces plans to build 5 nuclear reactors at Nipomo Dunes;
  • May 4 The Sierra Club Board meets to discuss PG&E's plan to build the Nipomo Dunes facility. The club president and Richard Leonard agree to meet with the PG&E president. The utility is already attending local meetings and pushing people to accept the facility;
  • June Board members meet with the PG&E president and agree to select an alternative site by 1965. Future club president Richard Leonard's wife is part of a business that will pick the alternative site;
  • Sept 7 The Sierra Club Board votes to oppose nuclear power facilities on coastal areas, but doesn't fund opposition resources;


  • Dec PG&E begins conceptual planning of the new reactor facility;


  • Winter The Department of Interrior opens the coastal area along Diablo up for geological investigations.
  • Feb The Diablo Canyon site becomes the new alternative to Nipomo Dunes;
  • Feb California State Resources Agency advises against the Nipomo Dunes site;
  • May PG&E starts detailed site investigations at Diablo Canyon;
  • June A PG&E seismic consultant recommends offshore seismic mapping;
  • Aug An onshore fault at Diablo Canyon is found by PG&E geologists but was later considered unimportant;
  • Sept PG&E consultant's conclude seismic investigations. The company offers $20 million to one property owner of the site and starts legal action to remove right of way block a neighbor has that is opposed to the plans;


  • April 7 Conservation Associates (Doris Leonard) pushes the Sierra Club board to endorse Diablo Canyon;
  • May 6 Sierra Club Board votes to endorse the Diablo Canyon site while the only board member who has detailed knowledge of the Canyon is out of the country.
  • May PG&E discusses the proposed Diablo Canyon facility with the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC);
  • May Sierra Board members tour the site and discover it houses the world's largest Oak trees, a sacred burial ground for the Chumash Indians, the second to last coastal wilderness area in the state and the home to the largest Abalone site in California. The site was also disclosed as being proposed as a state park;
  • June A major campaign to reverse the endorsement is started by several board members and David Brower;
  • Sept Club opponents of the endorsement call for a vote by the members at large. The vote loses but is due to the proponents changing the wording of the proposal by opponents. The internal struggle grows.
  • Nov 15 Unit 1 construction estimate $162,270,000 with a completion date of 5/1/72;
  • Dec PG&E submits Unit 1 reactor's Certificate of Public Conveniance and Necessitity (CPCN) to the Ca. Public Utilities Commission (CPUC);


  • Jan PG&E submits Construction Permit and Preliminary Safety Analysis Report (PSAR) for Unit 1 to the AEC;
  • Jan AEC's Atomic Safety & Licensing Board (ASLB) endorses PG&E plans;
  • Jan The club president withholds submitting arguments in favor of the site, forcing Diablo opponents to break procedural rules, causing a major backfire in plans to reverse the May 1966 endorsement;
  • Feb The regional Sierra Club chapter that is blocked from using the Sierra Club name to oppose Diablo Canyon forms the Scenic Shoreline Preservation Conference (SSPC) as a new group to formally oppose PG&E plans;
  • Feb The club's Ecological Impact Committee comes out with a report calling the Diablo site "remarkably worthy of preservation";
  • Feb 16 PG&E says it will spend $188 million to build unit 1. The utility mentions a 2nd unit with plans to build up to 6 reactors;
  • Mar U.S. Geological Survey supervising geologist suggests the need for offshore seismic investigations, or move to another location;
  • April In a meeting between all major parties involved in the proposed project, PG&E lead consultant states that no further seismic investigations that could lead to further discoveries of faulting would be done which might delay the project;
  • Nov 7 The CPUC grants PG&E the CPCN for Diablo Canyon, but under strong opposition from CPUC chairman William Bennett;
  • Dec The AEC's Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS) approves the Unit 1 design plans;


  • Jan 30 Unit 2 construction estimate is $157,400,000 with operation date set for 7/1/74;
  • Feb The SSPC registers as an intervenor against the facility;
  • Feb PG&E applies for unit 2 CPCN before the CPUC;
  • Feb The ASLB testifies before the AEC that the site is geologically stable;
  • April 23 The AEC formally approves PG&E's construction permit for unit 1;
  • May 16 The state Supreme Court denies SSPC's request to block construction;
  • May Sierra Club board member Martin Litton convinces enough board members to reverse the May 1966 vote;
  • June PG&E applies for a PSAR and Construction Permit for unit 2 with the AEC;
  • June 22 8 Sierra Club board members send a letter to the PG&E president requesting that he postpone construction;
  • July PG&E begins construction of Unit 1;
  • Sept 14 In an intense emotion filled meeting, the Sierra Club Board fails to fully reverse itself on the original 1965 vote;
  • Dec SSPC asks the CPUC what the status is for investigating offshore faulting. The CPUC asks PG&E for a response. PG&E tells the CPUC that none was needed;


  • Feb Shell oil geologists discover the Hosgri fault just off the coast;
  • Mar 23 The CPUC votes to grant PG&E a CPCN for unit 2 with an estimated construction cost of $183 million;
  • April Sierra Club Members vote in support of Diablo Canyon again. Publicity in the major media paints opponents in a negative light. Opponents of the site fail to regain enough votes to continue opposition;
  • May David Brower resigns from the Sierra Club, and with others, starts Friends of the Earth;
  • May 6 PG&E revises construction costs for unit 1 up $50 million to $212,300,000 with an operation date set for 2/1/73. Unit 2's is increased $34 million to $192,200,000 with no change in the planned 7/1/74 operation date;
  • May 26 PG&E applies for a county building permit;
  • Aug California state Assembly votes in favor of the utilities' 20 year development plan (including 63 reactors by PG&E);
  • Dec U.S. nuclear industry commits to building 95 nuclear reactors;


  • Jan 13 An intervenor geologist testifies at AEC hearings that the facility should be built to withstand a 7.3 magnitude vs. a 6.75 quake. The agency adopts the lower figure;
  • Spring Doris Leonard is elected to the PG&E Board of Directors;
  • April The SSPC asks for more seismic investigations;
  • May A report on the Hosgri fault is completed by PG&E;
  • May The head UGSG geologist overseeing the Diablo Canyon review completes his investigation of seismic activity without seeing the just released news about Hosgri;
  • Aug 7 The ASLB reopens seismic hearings for 1 day to take further testimony from the intervenor's geologist after a series of small earthquake offshore of Diablo Canyon occur;
  • Dec Unit 2 construction permit issued;


  • Jan 19 The CPUC holds 27 days of hearings around public complaints about power line placement going to Diablo Canyon;
  • Jan A full report on the Hosgri Fault is published in geological circles;
  • Later PG&E's head geologist and the head USGS geologist also learn of the Hosgri fault. The government geologists informs the AEC of its existance, but the staff loses track of it;
  • July 20 PG&E announces its 2nd revision for Diablo Canyon costs and operation. Unit 1 construction costs will rise an additional $117 million to $330,000,000 with an operational date set for spring 1974. Unit 2 costs will rise an additional $97 million to $290,000,000 with an operational date of spring 1975;


  • Feb 15 PG&E is required to relocate transmission lines;
  • April SSPC again formally requests investigations into offshore faults before the ASLB (not knowing that one has already been found). The AEC staff which knew about the reported fault fails to inform the ASLB of the fault;
  • Oct PG&E claims this is when they learned about the existance of the Hosgri Fault;
  • Nov The originally scheduled commercial operation date for Unit 1 goes by;


  • June 7 Earthquakes, security issues, nuclear waste transport and emergency cooling systems are all excluded from public comment during Diablo licensing hearings;
  • July PG&E releases its Final Safety Analysis Report (FSAR) which includes the Hosgri Fault. The renamed Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) requests further investigations;
  • July PG&E submits its application for Unit 1 & 2's operating license;
  • Sept 17 The AEC predicts the death of 110,000 abalone from operating Diablo Canyon;
  • Sept The Mothers For Peace joins in opposition of the proposed reactor calling for evacuation plans. None exist;
  • Sept The Los Angeles Times publishes information about the Hosgri fault on the front page, revealing it to the public for the first time;
  • Oct 16 PG&E announces it has applications for two units at a cost of $620 million with completion dates in late 1975 and 1976;
  • Nov PG&E does a small offshore investigation of the Hosgri fault;
  • Nov The Mothers for Peace files for intervenor status;
  • Nov 24 Signs of a fault are discovered by the USGS a mile offshore from the facility. A PG&E PR man claims Diablo can "handle the greatest earthquake that could occur.";


  • Jan 11 Intervenors propose a stop work order to the ASLB until the Hosgri fault is investigated. The request is denied;
  • Mar PG&E does a hot test of unit 1. The test kills thousands of abalone in Diablo Cove, enraging local fishermen;
  • April PG&E starts internal discussion about how the Hosgri fault could exceed their design;
  • April 30 The AEC allows 3 days of discussion about alternatives to nuclear in its Unit 2 environmental hearings;
  • May 1 The AEC rejects SSPC's proposal to halt construction until further investigations are done on Hosgri;
  • May PG&E conducts additional seismic tests on the Hosgri fault;
  • July 2 An abalone diver is arrested while attempting to stop testing of the ocean intake systems. He becomes the 1st person to be arrested at Diablo Canyon;
  • July PG&E does more Hosgri testing;
  • July 27 PG&E claims to have found 200 dead abalone offshore from the reactor after initial tests;
  • Sept PG&E adds an amendment to the FSAR theorizing that Hosgri would not affect Diablo;
  • Sept 24 A 2.9 magnitude earthquake occurs offshore from Diablo Canyon that creates public safety concerns;
  • Oct A PG&E consultant counters the company's September FSAR claim;
  • Dec The NRC reverses its position on Diablo, based on USGS evaluations, stating that the design would not be great enough to handle a major quake on the fault;
  • Dec PG&E submits a rebuttal to the NRC claiming that the current designs are fine;
  • ! PG&E loses documentation on over 1 million manhours of labor during 1974, continuing to fall behind in constructing the facility;
  • Dec 20 PG&E makes it 3rd revision of costs and operational dates. Unit 1 construction costs will increase an additional $65 million to $395,000,000 with an operation date of Sept. 1975. Unit 2 construction estimates rise an additional $145 million to $435,000,000 with an operation date of 3/1/77;


  • Jan USGS goes on the record saying that Hosgri could generate a quake greater than 7.0;
  • Jan 22 A state Department of Fish & Games report says that between 4,000 and 13,000 abalone were killed during last summers hot water testing;
  • Feb The NRC's ACRS holds a hearing to investigate whether or not PG&E was delinquent in its failure to find Hosgri earlier. PG&E consultants testify that there was not enough facts to make such a determination.
  • April 10 The EPA cites PG&E for releasing excessive quantities of copper into the Pacific ocean;
  • Spring Intervenors succeed at holding up fuel loading;
  • May 28 PG&E says it will spend $5 million to remove copper piping from the reactor's coolant system;
  • June 24 PG&E makes its 4th revision to costs and the operational date. Unit 1 construction costs will rise an additional $155 million to $550,000,000 with an operational date of 8/1/76. Unit 2 is not revised;
  • Oct 17 A public forum is held at a gym on a college campus, near the site, with Dr. John Goffman and Edward Teller making statements. 4,000 attend;
  • Nov The NRC delays license hearings due to the continued Hosgri controversy;
  • Nov PG&E meets with the NRC to discuss earthquake design criteria. The NRC staff tries to help PG&E build its case for the current design;
  • Dec 9 The ASLB okays nuclear fuel to be brought on site. Intervenors call for all construction work to end pending further seismic evaluations. The Intervenors appeal the fuel loading decision. County supervisors state that emergency planning procedures are inadequate;


  • ! A PG&E consultant comes up with the "Tau Effect", where Diablo's large foundation would reduce the damage from a quake;
  • Jan 15 PG&E learns of the USGS's evaluation of the potential 7.5 quake on the Hosgri;
  • Jan 28 PG&E begins shipping fuel to the Diablo site despite an appeal of the December decision;
  • Feb 22 Eight activists are arrested for attempting to pray at Diablo Canyon's front gates. Debate over the earthquake is now getting statewide media coverage;
  • Mar 4 The NRC appeals board rules against an intervenor proposal to review Diablo Canyon's security plans;
  • April 1 Intervenors request that fuel shipments be halted at a NRC appeals board hearing;
  • April The USGS releases a study that says the Diablo seismic design is not capable of handling the maximum potential quake;
  • May The NRC's ACRS adopts USGS design criteria. Intervenors protest these numbers claiming there is a potential for a bigger quake;
  • June PG&E is forced to upgrade seismic designs and do construction modifications;
  • June 18 The NRC rules that intervenors can review PG&E security plans;
  • July 1 The NRC appeals board rules against an intervenor proposal to halt fuel shipments;
  • Nov 1 County supervisors vote to spend $13,520 for developing an emergency response plan;
  • Dec 7 Activists stage an action at the ASLB's Environmental Impact hearings for licensing. Concern grows that the government will not stop Diablo. Many people start organizing to do civil disobedience;


  • Jan A statewide activist group, organized with Quaker help forms with the name People Against Nuclear Power;
  • Feb Activists present PG&E with a lemon pie;
  • Feb PG&E and the NRC agree upon new design criteria for Diablo;
  • Mar 292 defective welds are found at Diablo that are due to poor training and improper instructions;
  • April 13 PG&E announces plans to seek an interim operating license for summer operation;
  • April PG&E discovers defects in 12 safety related switches;
  • April Westinghouse design flaws effecting emergency cooling systems are discovered;
  • May People Generating Energy stages a protest/rally at PG&E. 2,000 helium balloons are released at the site demonstrating the dangers from radiation releases;
  • May Cracks are found in 78 large pipe supports;
  • May 70 statewide activists form the Abalone Alliance (AA);
  • June Dr. John Goffman delivers the opening address at the California Conference for a Non-Nuclear Future;
  • June 11 PG&E files its initial report on the new seismic design specifications in an amendment to the FSAR;
  • June 28 PG&E makes its 5th revision to costs and operation. Unit 1 costs are increased $145 million to $695,000,000 with an operational date of 3/15/78. Unit 2 costs are increased by $125 million to $560,000,000 with an operational date of 10/15/78;
  • July Activists hold non-violence trainings in preparation for the August 6 blockade;
  • Aug 6 AA activists stage civil disobedience at the gates of Diablo Canyon. 47 are arrested while 1,500 others show support at a nearby rally. Activists do statewide teach-ins to educate the public about Diablo Canyon and nukes;
  • Aug 23 The NRC's ACRS reports that Diablo is operational except for seismic issues;
  • Aug 26 PG&E applies for an interim operating license;
  • Oct PG&E's application is delayed due to a late submittal by the company;
  • Oct 5 The SLO Telegraph-Tribune reveals that 2 of the 47 protestors arrested were undercover cops, which were spying on legal strategies of the defendants;
  • Oct 18 PG&E officials claim their emergency plans are adequate during 2 days of NRC hearings;
  • Nov 9 The NRC reverses its okay for an intervenor to look at PG&E security plans;


  • ! PG&E's workforce grows from 200 at the start of 1978 to 800 by the end of the year;
  • Jan NRC tells PG&E that they would prefer a full power license to an interim application;
  • Feb Geologists for the intervenors dispute the potential size of the Hosgri faultline;
  • June The intervenors request the ACRS to reject the PG&E and NRC proposed design criteria until it is adjudicated;
  • July 8 The ACRS accepts the new seismic design criteria;
  • Aug 6 AA holds another blockade at the Diablo Canyon gates. 5,000 people come to the rally where 487 people are arrested when they block access to the facility;
  • Sept 12 The NRC rules that an environmental scientist from Chicago isn't qualified to look at PG&E security plans;
  • Oct Opponents raise concerns about thermal pollution at Diablo Cove;
  • Nov The ASLB starts public hearings on new seismic design criteria. NRC is presented with detailed testimony by geologists that undermines the proposed seismic criteria planned for resupporting Diablo Canyon. The June 1979 startup date is delayed to February 1980;
  • Nov 14 The NRC says that Diablo Canyon meets or can be adapted to meet all seismic safety criteria;
  • Nov 15 The trial of Abalone Blockaders starts;
  • Dec 4 NRC license hearings concerning seismic safety begin with nearly all testimony against the facility;
  • Dec PG&E consultant's complete an intial study on decommissioning plans for Diablo Canyon;
  • Dec 21 20 people are convicted and fined $400 for the August blockade;


  • Jan 5 The intervenor's expert proposed to review PG&E 's security plans is killed in a car accident. Intervenors withdraw proposal to review plans;
  • Feb The ASLB rejects all intervenor seismic contentions and accepts the utitity's design changes;
  • Feb 13 PG&E makes its 6th revision for costs and operation. Unit 1 costs will increase $175 million to $870,000,000 with an operational date of 6/1/79. Unit 2 costs will increase $140 million to $700,000,000 with an operational date of 2/1/80;
  • Mar The Three Mile Island reactor in Pennsylvania has a partial meltdown. Residents flee from the area in fear. The incident sets off a national outcry against nuclear power;
  • April 7 An AA rally in San Francisco draws 25,000 people;
  • May Activists picket 93 PG&E offices statewide in one day, protesting Diablo Canyon;
  • May Governor Jerry Brown calls for a moratorium on construction at Diablo Canyon;
  • May 21 The NRC announces a 3 month moratorium for licensing reactors in the U.S.;
  • June 30 An Abalone Alliance rally near Diablo Canyon draws 40,000 people. Governor Brown comes out against the facility;
  • Aug 11 The state Supreme Court throws out the convictions of 1977 blockaders due to the undercover cops spying on their legal strategy sessions;
  • Sept 6 The NRC ends it moratorium on reactor licensing;
  • Sept The ASLB continues to make rulings in favor of PG&E. The public hears about PG&E's "Tau Effect";
  • Oct 1 The NRC's ASLB rules that Diablo is quake proof with adequate security plans;
  • Oct 15 A 6.4+ earthquake strikes southern California destroying a federal building built to withstand earthquakes;
  • Oct 15 Governor Brown requests intervenor status;
  • Nov Abalone activists hold a 38 day sit-in at governor Brown's office;
  • Nov Governor Brown is granted intervenor status in the Diablo Canyon NRC case;
  • Nov 29 The NRC is hit with 2 1/2 hours of expert testimony critical of their licensing actions;


  • Feb The ASLB orders new hearings on security issues for the facility;
  • Feb Opponents file a request with the CPUC to overturn the original CPCN's for the facility;
  • Mar Intervenors demand that seismic hearings be reopened;
  • Mar Opponents present an alternative conversion proposal to operation of the nuclear reactors;
  • April 2 The NRC rules that intervenors can review a "sanitized" version of PG&E's security plans;
  • June 17 The Abalone Alliance announces a massive blockade for Sept. 22;
  • June 25 The NRC appeals board agrees to reopen seismic hearings based on new information from the Oct. Imperial Valley earthquake;
  • July The CPUC staff makes recommendation not to reopen CPCN. Commissioners vote no on proposal. 15,000 people send their utility bills to the CPUC in protest;
  • July 8 Dozens of activists begin a 2 week sit-in at CPUC headquarters in S.F. in protest the staff decision;
  • July 12 The Abalone Alliance calls off the Sept. 22 blockade due to Diablo operation being delayed;
  • July 15 The state Office of Emergency Services proposes that Diablo evacuation plans should extend out 15 to 20 miles from the facility;
  • July 16 PG&E applies for a low-power testing license from the NRC;
  • Fall The State Office of Emergency Services releases a report estimating 27,000 deaths could occur from a serious accident at Diablo;
  • Oct 20 New ASLB hearings on seismic safety are held for a week. The same line about the facility already being built is the official position;
  • Nov 10 New ASLB hearings concerning security are held at PG&E headquarters in S.F. NRC Inspectors succeed at getting a gun past PG&E security guards;
  • Nov 18 The county selects a former PG&E consultant to prepare emergency response plans;


  • Jan 28 Winter storms destroy much of the breakwater at the facility causing millions in damages;
  • Feb 23 ASLB allows the public to talk about 5 issues in May hearings but disallow discussion of 23 other issues;
  • April 30 The ASLB reduces public discussion during hearings to just 2 subjects;
  • May 19 The ASLB holds public hearings in San Luis Obispo on PG&E's request for a low-power testing license. The room holds 50 people, but over 1,000 show up. The public is not allowed to speak;
  • June 15 The Abalone Alliance announces their blockade of the reactor will start the week after the NRC grants the low-power operating license;
  • June 16 The 1979 ASLB seismic decision is upheld by the NRC appeal board;
  • June The ASLB rules in favor of the 1978 design criteria;
  • July 17 The ASLB gives PG&E a low-power testing permit;
  • Sept. 9 NRC appeals board rules in PG&E's favor on security issues;
  • Sept. 10 The Abalone Alliance holds press conference announcing the blockade as people start arriving onsite;
  • Sept 11 The Regional Water Quality Control Board starts its hearings into PG&E discharge permit. The hearings will go on for 18 months;
  • Sept. 15 The Abalone Alliance starts a blockade of Diablo Canyon that lasts two weeks. Over 1,900 people are arrested, while tens of thousands show up to support them;
  • Sept 16 PG&E makes its 7th revision for costs and operation. Unit 1 costs will increase $400 million to $1,270,000,000 with an operational date of 2/1/82. Unit 2 costs will increase $340 million to $1,040,000,000 with an operational date of 10/1/82;
  • Sept. 21 The NRC commission reviews hearing reports and votes to grant PG&E the low-power testing license;
  • Sept. 27 Just as the Diablo Canyon blockade is ending a newly hired 25 year old engineer discovers that the seismic blue prints have been reversed;
  • Oct. 9 PG&E formally notifies the NRC that it has built the seismic supports in a "mirror image" of their proper positions;
  • Oct The Pacific Legal Foundation files a $1 million lawsuit (first major slap suit) against the Abalone Alliance to stop future protests. The case takes 5 years, going all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The chilling effect of the suit seriously hampers the Alliance;
    Oct 26 The NRC announces another set of seismic design errors that may be more critical than the "mirror image" problem;
  • Oct 27 NRC asks for extensive reviews of seismic design;
  • Oct 27 Governor Brown asks the NRC to revoke the low-power testing license;
  • Nov PG&E make makes oral and written reports to the full Nuclear Regulatory Commission. A PG&E consultant also states that additional design errors have been discovered;
  • Nov 18 PG&E becomes the first utility to ever have a testing license yanked as the NRC, under immense public pressure calls for more investigations;
  • Dec 14 PG&E is caught doctoring the independent contractors review of the newly found design flaws before being released to the NRC;
  • Dec 17 The NRC ASLB rules out consideration of how an earthquake may effect emergency plans;

Click to see Diablo Canyon Timeline Part II: