Dorian Hargrove 12:47 p.m., May 19
Following Successful Quake Table Test, UCSD Researchers Propose Similar Experiment at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station
Project Director: "It's time for scientists to get out of the lab and do some real good."
PACKING UP AND SHIPPING OUT, UCSD - Yesterday, researchers here pushed a button and successfully mimicked a 6.7-magnitude earthquake under a five-story, 14 million-pound building near Scripps Ranch. The building, which was custom-constructed and packed with sensors, provided reams of valuable data about the potential effects of a large-scale quake here in Southern California.
Now, UCSD Professor of Structural Engineering Ron "Shaky" Lachey wants to bring his big tool to bear on the controversy surrounding the structural safety of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. The station is currently shut down, following a radiation leak in January.
Lachey thinks now is the perfect time to address questions of the plant's structural integrity, questions which came to the fore following the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan.
"What most people don't know," says Lachey, "is that the quake table is both fully portable and totally waterproof. We've run some computer-simulation test models, and there is no reason why the table shouldn't be able to simulate the effects of an undersea earthquake just offshore from the station.
"We're calling the project the Southern California Onofre-Related Crisis Hypothetical: Earthquake Demonstration [SCORCHED]. Demonstration day - or D-Day as we like to call it - is slated for July 4. But don't worry - we'll be finished long before the fireworks start."