Mothers for Nuclear: New group tries to keep Diablo Canyon open via SFGate

Heather Matteson and Kristin Zaitz want to use motherhood and global warming to change the way Californians feel about nuclear power — before it’s too late.

Matteson and Zaitz both work at the state’s last nuclear power plant: Diablo Canyon, near San Luis Obispo. Both are convinced California can’t fight climate change without it. And both worry that the seaside plant, which is nearly surrounded by earthquake faults, could soon close, if environmentalists and some state officials get their way.


“We feel we can’t just do nothing,” said Zaitz, 35, whose job involves studying how well the plant and its equipment can withstand earthquakes. “In general right now, people at the plant are optimistic. But they’re starting to wonder which direction the company is going to go and which direction the state is going to guide them.”

Both women have worked at Diablo for more than 10 years, and each lives near the plant: Zaitz in Los Osos and Matteson in San Luis Obispo. Both are raising children there, a point they emphasize when talking with people about nuclear power.


“If we were to take Diablo Canyon offline, we would lose a quarter of the state’s clean power right now, and we’d replace it with (natural) gas,” Zaitz said. “For a state that’s so proud of its efforts against climate change, that’s unacceptable.”

Diablo supplies roughly 8 percent of all the electricity generated within the state, and it does so without pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The plant’s supporters — including another group that formed this year, Save Diablo Canyon — cast it as indispensable to California’s climate fight.

Opponents of the plant remain unconvinced. They consider the danger of meltdown too great, particularly considering the number of nearby fault lines. And the large, unchanging amount of power Diablo places on the grid day and night, critics say, crowds out electricity from the state’s fast-growing collection of solar- and wind-power facilities.

Opposing mothers

“We’re in favor of free speech, so this group has a right to exist and get their message out,” said Jane Swanson, a spokeswoman for the nonprofit Mothers for Peace, which has opposed Diablo Canyon since the early 1970s. “I wouldn’t put them down for it. Of course, we disagree with their positions, totally.”

Matteson and Zaitz both say they spent years considering the pros and cons of nuclear power before becoming convinced of its safety. And they understand that their advocacy places them in a strange position with their employer.

In conversation, they take care to mention, repeatedly, that they’re speaking on their own and not as representatives of PG&E. The company, they say, has not contributed funding to Mothers for Nuclear, a point echoed by PG&E spokesman Blair Jones. Then again, the company isn’t going to discourage them either.

Read more at Mothers for Nuclear: New group tries to keep Diablo Canyon open

This entry was posted in *English and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Mothers for Nuclear: New group tries to keep Diablo Canyon open via SFGate

  1. yukimiyamotodepaul says:

    Matteson and Zaitz may not receive any “extra” benefit from PG&E by advocating the Diablo Canyon. But we all know that if employees speak against nuclear power in general or become a whistle-blower of the specific plant, s/he will be severely punished, often end up in losing his/her job (and in the nuclear industry at large).

Leave a Reply