Leak Discovered Near Nuclear Plant
February 16, 2004
A leak of highly toxic hydrazine from a delivery truck outside Diablo
Canyon nuclear power plant prevented 1,100 employees from leaving the
building, and an additional 75 people were stuck on a nearby beach, authorities
The leak was discovered
around noon during an inspection of a truck delivering the hydrazine solution
to Diablo Canyon from a Unavar USA distribution center.
Employees at the Pacific Gas & Electric Co. plant who were scheduled
to end their shift at 4:30 pm were told they could not leave, as were
other people at nearby Port San Luis, said Mike Cole, spokesman for the
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
The CDF"s hazardous -materials team arrived at the plant near Avilla
Beach, 150 miles southwest of Fresno.
The hydrazine had evaporated by 4:30 pm and officials believed the leak
would be cleaned up by late evening. PG&E made plans to serve dinner
to its employees at the plant.
Inspectors found 10 to 15 gallons of the hydrazine- an anticorrosive used
in the plant's boiler system, had escaped through a gasket and pooled
atop a stainless steel container, said Dwight Landry, vice president of
operations for the Kirkland, Washington based Univar.
He said the 5-foot-high container was enclosed in a trailer.
"There is no danger to the public. It is contained," Landry
Although pure hydrazine is used as rocket fuel, the 35% hydrazine solution
was not flammable, but could be fatal if inhaled, swallowed or absorbed
through the skin, Cole said.
Jeff Lewis said the plant's security measures led to discovery of the