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Lawmakers eye Calif. nuclear plants

SACRAMENTO, March 23 (UPI) -- California legislators at both the state and federal level say they're concerned about earthquake risks at the state's two operating nuclear power plants.

The plants -- one in San Onofre just north of San Diego, and the other in Diablo Canyon near San Luis Obispo -- provided nearly 15 percent of the state's electricity. Like Japan's stricken Fukushima 1 plant, they are both located in seismically active regions near the coastline.

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The aging facilities date to the 1980s and nuclear watchdog groups say both have been cited for maintenance and safety issues in recent years, The Christian Science Monitor reported Tuesday.

At a legislative hearing Monday, state lawmakers denounced what they called the overconfidence of engineers and plant employees, noting Japan's earthquake was many times worse than Fukushima's safety measures had been designed to withstand.

They said they were worried about recent geological evidence suggesting a higher earthquake risk for both plants than their designers anticipated.

California U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, both Democrats, have urged the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to conduct a "thorough inspection" of the two plants and said they had questions about the plants' preparedness.

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"New information about the severe seismic risk at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station and the Diablo Canyon Power Plant make clear that these two plants require immediate attention in light of the catastrophic events in Japan," Boxer said in a statement.

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