Diablo Canyon Power Plant, which is owned by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), has been generating nuclear power since 1985. The plant currently provides electricity to more than 1.6 million homes through two 1,100 megawatt reactors. The plant is located in Avila Beach and surrounded by approximately 12,000 acres that are managed by PG&E.


Diablo Canyon Power Plant website

Nuclear Power Plants and Radiation

Nuclear power plants use the heat generated from nuclear fission in a contained environment to convert water to steam, which powers generators to produce electricity. Nuclear power plants operate in most states in the country and produce about 20 percent (20%) of the nation’s power. Nearly 3 million Americans live within 10 miles of an operating nuclear power plant. Although the construction and operation of nuclear power plants are closely monitored and regulated, accidents can happen. Local, State, and Federal agencies, as well as the electric company operating the plant have emergency plans in place that will prevent, prepare for, or mitigate the consequences should an accident happen.

The Pressurized Water Nuclear Reactor

In a pressurized water reactor, there are three separate and enclosed water loops. Within the first loop, water, under pressure to prevent boiling, flows through the reactor fuel core and is heated by nuclear fission. The heated water passes through the stream generator where it transfers its heat to the water in the second loop and is then pumped back into the reactor to be reheated. The water in the second loop boils into steam and rushes with great force into the turbine where it strikes blades causing an attached shaft to spin. The other end of the shaft spins inside a generator, producing electricity. Within the third loop, cooling water, drawn from an outside source, condenses the steam after its energy is spent. The cooling water is returned to its source while the reconverted water is pumped back to the stream generator.

View a Pressurized Water Reactor