IV Action Items: C. Discussion of open items list (maintenance needed)
Afternoon Session – 02/15 – 1:30pm
XII Discussion: review, evaluation, and assessment of matters affected by extended operation under SB 846 including seismic safety, maintenance, and capital project planning
Evening Session – 02/15 – 5:15pm
XVIII Presentation by PG&E
1. update on planning for both decommissioning and extended operations, including plans for license renewal
2. plans for reviewing, approving, and implementing capital projects and changes to maintenance programs needed to support extended operations
3. status of retention programs, attrition, and efforts to retain qualified staff for extended operations
Morning Session – 02/16 – 9:00am
XXV Presentation by PG&E on the state of the plant including key events, outages, highlights, organizational changes, results of refueling outage 2R23, Unit 2 reactor coolant system piping leak and other issues
Afternoon Session – 02/16 – 1:15pm
XXXI Presentation by PG&E on spent fuel management
CALIFORNIA GROUPS TO PG&E: YOU CAN’T CUT CORNERS ON DIABLO CANYON EXTENSION
Following Successful Petition For NRC To Deny Request to Resume Diablo Canyon Renewal Application, Environmental Groups File New Response Asserting PG&E Request for Exemption to Operate Past 40-Year Lifespan Must be Denied.
SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA – FEBRUARY 13, 2023 – On January 24, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) denied a formal request by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) to resume reviewing a 2009 license renewal application to extend the operating life of Diablo Canyon’s twin nuclear reactors, which the company withdrew in 2018. In conjunction, Petitioners San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (SLOMFP), Friends of the Earth (FoE), and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) today filed a new petition demanding that the NRC finish its legal obligation to keep Diablo Canyon on schedule to close its twin units in 2024 and 2025 and repudiate PG&E’s recent request for exemption from the “Timely Renewal Rule.”
According to the petitioners, PG&E has no lawful path to continued uninterrupted operation of the Diablo Canyon nuclear reactors after its operating licenses expire in November 2024 (Unit 1) and August 2025 (Unit 2). Granting an exemption from this rule would force the NRC to cram the three-year safety and environmental review process and offer a public hearing into a mere ten months. The catalog of issues the NRC staff must review is so extensive that to cram a complex government review into the short ten-month period between the submission of the license renewal application and the expiration of the Unit 1 license would be difficult if not impossible. Completion of the NRC’s review process, including public hearings, is essential to assure that continued operation of the reactors will be safe for the public and the environment.
Diane Curran, legal counsel for Mothers for Peace, said: “There is absolutely no precedent for the exemption requested by PG&E. The NRC has never allowed a reactor to operate past its license expiration dates without thoroughly assessing the safety and environmental risks. And it must do so in this case too.”
Further, Curran observed that “it would be irrational and irresponsible for the NRC to permit PG&E to operate aging and deteriorating reactors encumbered by aging equipment risks, seismic risks and environmental impacts without a thorough environmental and safety review.”
“NRC’s recent decision to reject PG&E’s request to renew its outdated, withdrawn license renewal application gave us hope that the law is being properly and thoroughly applied to this risky decision,” said Hallie Templeton, Legal Director for Friends of the Earth. “An operating permit extension for any nuclear power plant has major implications for people and the planet. With Diablo Canyon receiving only minimal – if any – safety updates in decades, PG&E’s push to reduce the NRC’s review from several years to several months creates an especially deadly equation. Today’s filing clearly outlines why NRC must proceed with the utmost care and caution, as mandated by a federal law.”
Caroline Leary, an attorney for EWG, said: “PG&E argued to the NRC that its request for an exemption from federal regulations was necessitated by the California Legislature’s vote in favor of extending Diablo’s operation. But nothing in S.B. 846, the law passed by the Legislature, calls upon NRC to relax its safety or environmental regulations for the purpose of extending Diablo Canyon’s operation. In fact, the law relies on the NRC to ensure that if Diablo Canyon continues to operate, it will not put the public or the environment at risk.”
Just as the NRC stood its ground and upheld its own policies by denying PG&E’s request to resurrect its 2009 license renewal application, it should also deny PG&E’s request for an exemption of the timely renewal rule.
The NRC’s January 24 decision  affirmed recent arguments in the earlier petition by San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (SLOMFP), Friends of the Earth (FoE), and Environmental Working Group (EWG) that resuming review of PG&E’s withdrawn license renewal application would be unlawful. The organizations demanded successfully that the NRC deny PG&E’s October 31, 2022, request to resume review of the application.
The decision prevents PG&E from circumnavigating NRC regulations that require the company to file a new and up-to-date license renewal application, which would take 3-5 years. PG&E previously admitted that the application was severely outdated and could not be updated or completed until late 2023 – a year before the Unit 1 license term expires. It now appears that PG&E may have to close Diablo Canyon when its licenses expire in the fall 2024 (Unit 1) and spring 2025 (Unit 2) and keep them closed unless and until the NRC approves a new license renewal application.
Public Forum on PG&E’s 2021 Nuclear Decommissioning Cost Triennial Proceeding — Humboldt Bay and Diablo Canyon Proceeding A.21-12-007
January 26, 6 PM — remote access
January 31, 6 PM — in-person
From California Public Utilties Commission
The CPUC will hold a remote public forum on January 26 and 31, 2023 at 6 p.m. to provide an opportunity to offer comment about PG&E’s requests related to the Diablo Canyon Power Plant and Humboldt Bay Power Plant Unit.
REMOTE ACCESS OPTIONS: January 26, 6 pm
English Phone: 800-857-1917, passcode: 1767567#
Participants will have audio in English and will be able to make comments. (After entering the passcode, if you plan to make a comment, when prompted press *1, unmute your phone, and record your name.)
Wait times depend on the number of speakers in the public comment queue. During times of high call volumes, wait times will be longer. The operator will call on you when it is your turn to speak.
Live video broadcast with English or Spanish captions via webcast: www.adminmonitor.com/ca/cpuc
Participants who choose to participate via webcast will only have audio and video capabilities but will not be able to make verbal comments. If you would like to make a comment during the meeting, the phone-in information is below.
For captions, after clicking on the name of the workshop, click the green button at the bottom of the video for captions. Then select captions by clicking on the white icon next to the word “live” at the bottom of the video.
The forums will also be recorded and archived for future viewing.
IN-PERSON LOCATION: January 31, 6 pm
San Luis Obispo County Chambers 1055 Monterey Street, Room D170 San Luis Obispo, CA 93408
If you wish to make a public comment, sign up at the Public Advisor’s Office’s table.
If special accommodations are needed to attend, such as non-English or sign language interpreters, please contact the CPUC’s Public Advisor’s Office at email@example.com or toll-free at 866-849-8390 at least five business days in advance of the public forums.
You can also make your voice heard in this proceeding, and read the comments of others, on our online Docket Card comment section for the proceeding at apps.cpuc.ca.gov/c/A2112007.
PG&E reports nuclear reactor welding leak at Diablo Canyon facility
EWG: Critical questions about coolant system damage go unanswered
SAN FRANCISCO – Pacific Gas & Electric found damage to part of a reactor cooling system at the aging Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in California, but it hasn’t yet answered key questions about the extent of the problem.
PG&E is the owner of the state’s last remaining nuclear power plant, and found the fault with the reactor coolant system during a routine inspection in October. PG&E detailed the damage in a report to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, or NRC, in December.
The power company says the system had a crack in the welding of the wall of Diablo Canyon’s Unit 2 reactor, which was shut down for refueling. PG&E says the presumed cause was fatigue, which was caused by vibrations at the facility indicating a weld defect. The utility says the damage meant the unit fell short of NRC operating requirements.
PG&E says it repaired the leak, and the public and plant workers were never at risk. But the utility’s filing with the commission raises several questions, including:
When was the affected weld last inspected?
When does PG&E believe the crack in the weld formed?
Why had the weld flaw not been identified?
What was the size of the leak when it occurred?
“The communities near Diablo Canyon deserve to know the full details of the incident, how it happened, why it wasn’t discovered earlier and how long it took for PG&E to identify the damage to the reactor coolant system,” said Environmental Working Group President and California resident Ken Cook.
“The main reason for shuttering this aging facility is the potential threat it poses to the public – and PG&E’s overall safety record across its vast service area in the state is among the worst of any power company in the country,” Cook said.
Diablo Canyon’s latest problem highlights ongoing concerns about the stability of the facility and shows why EWG and others are pushing to shut the plant down.
Yet state and federal officials are trying to keep the aging facility operating beyond 2025, when it’s slated to shutter under the terms of a settlement carefully negotiated between PG&E, California and environmentalists.
Last September, at the urging of California Gov. Gavin Newsom, the state legislature approved Senate Bill 846, a law that will keep the plant operating for five more years, until 2030. It will also give PG&E a $1.4 billion loan to cover costs during that extra time.
In November, the Biden administration announced it will give PG&E more than $1 billion in federal funding to keep the plant operating past its scheduled 2025 closure date.
PG&E has also petitioned the NRC to fast-track its October 31 request to extend the license of the twin Diablo Canyon reactors. Four environmental organizations, led by San Luis Obispo-based Mothers for Peace, or SLOMFP, have sent letters to the NRC warning it would violate federal law if it accepts the proposal. The other groups that signed the letters are EWG, Friends of the Earth and Committee to Bridge the Gap.
“PG&E cannot have it both ways,” claimed SLOMFP Board President Jane Swanson. “PG&E stopped preparing the reactors for continued operation in 2016 and voided their license renewal. The company has spent the past six years preparing to mothball the reactors and has saved money by not investing in future operations. It is too late to get a license renewal before the plant must shut down.”
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy, and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.
On December 6, 2022, in their second letter to the Commissioners of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) within the space of three weeks, four environmental organizations once again put the NRC on notice that the agency would violate federal law if it accepted Pacific Gas & Electric’s (PG&E’s) October 31 proposal to resurrect and fast-track its review of PG&E’s long-abandoned 2009 license renewal application for the twin Diablo Canyon reactors. San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (SLOFMP), Friends of the Earth (FOE), Environmental Working Group (EWG), and Committee to Bridge the Gap (CBG) warned that PG&E’s proposal runs afoul of the NRC’s safety requirements and procedures and would violate the federal National Environmental Policy Act.
The NRC terminated the Diablo Canyon license renewal proceeding in 2018 when PG&E decided to close the reactors in 2024 and 2025. “PG&E cannot have it both ways,” claimed SLOMFP Board President Jane Swanson. “PG&E stopped preparing the reactors for continued operation in 2016 and asked the NRC to terminate the license renewal proceeding. The company has spent the past six years preparing to mothball the reactors and has saved money by not investing in future operations. They can’t reverse course and revive a license renewal application that was declared dead years ago at their own request.”
Last September, the California Legislature passed SB 846 to provide PG&E with economic incentives to request a five-year extension of Diablo Canyon’s license from the NRC. “With years of extended operations on the table for this outdated and potentially deadly nuclear facility, it is crucial that we cut zero corners,” said FOE Legal Director Hallie Templeton. “The California legislature has not provided PG&E carte blanche to seek exemptions and streamline relicensing. If it intends to continue operating Diablo, PG&E should be required to file an entirely new and up-to-date license renewal application, which the NRC must thoroughly analyze by the full letter of the law before reaching a decision.”
The organizations also noted that PG&E had no legal basis for its request to exempt it from important federal regulations requiring an environmental analysis before the NRC can allow the reactors to operate beyond their current license terms.
“The last time the NRC did an environmental review for operation of the Diablo Canyon reactors was 1993,” said Ken Cook, EWG’s President and Co-founder. “Given the potentially extreme impacts and risks of continuing to operate Diablo Canyon, it would be both illegal and sheer folly to proceed with extended operation in the absence of a thorough and up-to-date Environmental Impact Statement.”
Dan Hirsch, spokesperson for CBG, commented, “PG&E’s request to be exempted from regulatory requirements for Diablo Canyon is very dangerous. If the requested exemption were granted, Diablo could keep running, potentially for many years, while the critical issues of whether it is safe to do so are not yet resolved. This creates the potential for an accident and massive radiation release to occur after license expiration and before a renewal decision could be made on those vital safety issues. It is the proverbial nuclear version of shooting first and asking questions later.”
These groups, which submitted their first letter to the NRC on November 17, pledged to continue their efforts to ensure that any license renewal application filed with the NRC by PG&E is reviewed with all the rigor required by federal safety and environmental laws.
The Diablo Canyon Decommissioning Engagement Panel (DCDEP) hosted an informational online webinar on Wednesday, December 14, 2022 to update the community on the status and proposed schedule for the continued operation of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant (DCPP) and implications on decommissioning activities, such as, repurposing, land use, and environmental permitting. The online meeting included presentations by PG&E, the California Energy Commission and the Diablo Canyon Independent Safety Committee. Members of the community submitted questions and concerns prior to the meeting. In preparation for the meeting, PG&E prepared a brief summary of SB 846 and the status of activities relating to the extended operation of DCPP.diablocanyonpanel(dot)org/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/SB-846-PGE-Summary-11_23_22.pdf
View meeting agenda, meeting recording and presentation materials — diablocanyonpanel(dot)org/2022-panel-meetings/#12-14-22-panel-mtg
– – – –
From Mothers for Peace SLO prior to the meeting —
Topics include: review of SB 846 funding and accelerated permitting provisions to allow for extended operations; actions already taken by PG&E; the role of the Diablo Canyon Independent Safety Committee; the role of the Diablo Canyon Independent Peer Review Panel to address seismic issues; and implications of extended operations on the current decommissioning CEQA process.
No public comment will be allowed, but you may submit written comments at any time [to the Panel]. diablocanyonpanel[dot]org/submit-comment/
There is supposedly a list being developed of deferred maintenance projects and the associated estimated costs. Who is participating in the compilation of this list? When will it be available to the public? Who will oversee these projects?
There is much controversy over the seismic safety of Diablo Canyon. What agency(ies) is/are responsible for the independent analysis of seismic dangers? How and when will the public be informed of the findings?
Explain the plans for how the high level radioactive waste will be stored as a result of the proposed extended operation. How will the fuel pools and the Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation be managed?
SB 846 allows 5 years of extended operation. But the 2018 agreement to shutter the reactors in 2024 and 2025, signed and approved by the CPUC and the NRC, was ignored and reversed. What assurance does the public have that the plant would operate for 5 additional years and no more?
PG&E’s Summary of SB 846 and the status of activities relating to extended operation diablocanyonpanel(dot)org/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/SB-846-PGE-Summary-11_23_22.pdf
Governor Newsom has been carrying PG&E’s water for too long. When will it end? July 8, 2022
Governor Newsom’s cozy relationship with PG&E has been ongoing since his run for San Francisco Supervisor in 1998. By now, contributions from PG&E add up to well over $10 million in support of his campaigns and ballot measures. The company has also contributed hundreds of thousands to Newsom’s wife’s foundation. In return, Newsom has helped PG&E get away with murder, literally. And now, Newsom is proving his loyalty to the company by providing a runway for PG&E to keep Diablo Canyon nuclear plant open past its agreed-upon closure date of 2025.
On June 30, the Department of Energy (DOE) bowed to Newsom’s plea to change the rules so Diablo could qualify for a portion of the $6 million of Civil Nuclear Tax Credits. The DOE also extended the application deadline until September 6, 2022, allowing PG&E ample time to apply. Newsom is no stranger to manipulating circumstances to help PG&E. After the Camp Fire, which killed 85 people in 2018, Newsom had his lawyers craft a bill, AB 1054. This 2019 bill essentially protected PG&E by creating a $21 billion fund to help utilities cover the cost of major wildfires started by their equipment and forcing customers to pay for half of the cost of the fund. The bill also enabled PG&E to obtain official state safety certificates for two fire seasons since the Camp Fire. Yet, three years later, a state report on the 2021 Dixie Fire indicated that the utility was negligent in its tree-removal program, which helped spark the fire, and that their response the day of the fire was “excessively delayed.”
In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling weakening the EPA, Governor Newsom claimed that “California is taking bold action to further advance California’s progress toward an oil-free future and bolster the state’s clean energy economy.” Yet, at the same time, he convinced members of the State Legislature to pass a very climate-unfriendly Trailer Budget Bill. This legislation provides a $75 million allocation for the Department of Water Resources to purchase electricity from Diablo Canyon and hundreds of millions more for fossil fuel power plants.
Keeping Diablo open past 2025 breaks a hard-fought agreement between environmental organizations, labor, and PG&E. It puts the availability of renewable energy at risk, undercutting the state’s ability to reduce carbon dioxide and other climate-warming emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2045. California does not need Diablo to ensure sufficient energy to prevent power outages or meet climate goals. To be clear, Diablo Canyon is closing because PG&E determined in 2016 that doing so would enable it to meet California’s renewable energy standard (RES) and emissions standards more rapidly and more cost-effectively.
Newsom’s coddling of PG&E and his maneuverings at the state and federal levels to keep Diablo running is all the more disturbing in that his motivations are based on the false narrative that these fossil and nuclear-fueled plants will prevent power outages. They will not. Energy consultant Robert Freehling explains it succinctly: “These plants were operating during the early 2000s energy crisis and in 2020. They did not prevent outages.”
Timeline: PG&E’s disasters since 2010 ABC10 examined the disasters and wildfires caused by PG&E, starting with the San Bruno Gas Explosion in 2010 then jumping ahead 8 years to the Camp Fire.Here’s a look at the timeline of PG&E’s disasters by ABC10:2010… PG&E was convicted of six federal felonies, including obstruction of the investigation, stemming from the 2010 San Bruno Gas Explosion. The blast killed eight people. Due to this conviction, the company was placed on probation until 2022, paid a $3 million fine, and was sentenced to 10,000 hours of community service.
2018... Newsom wins the governor’s race in November of 2018. Three days later, the Camp Fire started, destroying the town of Paradise and nearby communities. The fire resulted in the deaths of 85 people. It was determined the company left a hook hanging for nearly a hundred years until it broke, dropped a power line and sparked the fire.
2019… Problems with similar parts on a high tension power line are blamed for sparking the Kincade Fire. It burned more than a hundred homes in wine country. No one died, but it was close. Firefighters were injured while saving people. PG&E is fighting multiple felony and misdemeanor charges filed by Sonoma County in connection to the Kincade Fire.
2020…PG&E pleaded guilty to 84 felony counts of manslaughter, and one felony for sparking the Camp Fire through criminally reckless behavior. Three months after the court proceedings for the Camp Fire, the Zogg Fire broke out when a tree hit a PG&E power line in Shasta County. Four people died, including eight-year-old Feyla McLeod and her mother, both of whom burned to death running for their lives in a pickup truck. It’s an active homicide investigation and prosecutors recently announced they will be filing charges against PG&E and possibly officials who work there. The judge managing PG&E’s probation already found PG&E committed safety “violations” when PG&E’s contractors marked an unsafe tree leaning over the power line, but no one ever followed up to cut it down.
2021… PG&E’s legal obligation to find and cut trees threatening power lines is again under investigation for the Dixie Fire, which is still raging through communities ever since igniting on July 13. The fire started where a tree fell on a PG&E power line just a short distance up the Feather River Canyon from where PG&E sparked the Camp Fire. The question for investigators isn’t whether PG&E sparked the Dixie Fire, but whether PG&E is criminally responsible. That question hinges on whether PG&E should have found the tree and cut it before it fell.
ABC10 series: Fire Power Money For over three years, ABC10’s Fire – Power – Money team has been at the forefront covering California’s wildfire crisis, the danger of PG&E’s power lines, and how the company avoids accountability. Governor Newsom, PG&E, the CPUC, and the California fires https://www.abc10.com/firepowermoney
Former Prime Minister of Japan Sounds the Alarm on Diablo Canyon Naoto Kan Advises Governor Newsom to Close Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant ASAP
May 2022 – Naoto Kan was Prime Minister of Japan when the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster began. Hearing that California Governor Gavin Newsom is considering extending the operation of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant beyond its current license period, Kan felt compelled to contact the Governor, advising him to shut down the nuclear plant as soon as possible.
As a result of Naoto Kan’s experiences managing the triple meltdown catastrophe, he has become vocally anti-nuclear. As he explains in his memoir, My Nuclear Nightmare, “I came to understand that a nuclear accident carried with it a risk so large that it could lead to the collapse of a country.
“Eleven years on, the nuclear disaster in Japan is on-going. The government is set to release millions of gallons of irradiated water into the Pacific Ocean as early as next spring – angering citizens and governments worldwide.
Both Japan and California are seismically active and share coastlines with the Pacific Ocean. Fukushima Prefecture and San Luis Obispo County have many similarities, both communities relying heavily on agriculture, fishing, and tourism. Naoto Kan has a deep understanding of these shared risks and vulnerabilities. Thus, he is sounding the alarm on Diablo Canyon.
Carole Hisasue, Spokesperson for San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, states, “As history has clearly illustrated, nuclear accidents affect the entire world. We will all be safer when Diablo Canyon nuclear plant ceases operation.”
Full text of Naoto Kan’s letter to Governor Newsom:
May 12, 2022
Dear Governor Newsom, I have heard that you have been considering extension of operations at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant which is set to decommission in a few years. I was the Prime Minister of Japan at the time of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident and based on my experiences dealing with that disaster, I advise you to shut down the nuclear plant as soon as possible.
As you know, three nuclear reactors built along the Pacific Coast in Fukushima melted down after the Great Northeastern Earthquake and Tsunami of March 11, 2011 and released an enormous amount of radiation.
Until this accident occurred, I never thought a nuclear event in which there would be a meltdown such as this could happen. And yet, in reality, the earthquake cut off external power, the emergency diesel generators were damaged by the tsunami and stopped. All power to control the nuclear plant was lost, three reactors could no longer be cooled and that led to the unthinkable meltdown. An incredible amount of radiation was released and even now, 11 years since then, many of the former residents of the areas around the nuclear plant are still in evacuation.
From my perspective, as someone who has personally experienced this accident, I believe that all nuclear power plants should be decommissioned as soon as possible and that we should move toward renewable energy, such as solar and wind, for all our power needs. This is why I am writing to you today.
I have enclosed the English version of a book I wrote about the Fukushima accident. I hope you can find the time to read it.
There’s a misguided effort being pushed forward by some well-intentioned people who have joined the Nuclear Power Fan Club. These people truly believe that nuclear power will save the planet from climate disaster, and there’s a lot of money to be made.
The newly released Stanford/MIT study recommends exploring the extension of Diablo Canyon’s license to operate in order to combat climate change, but it completely ignores important conditions at Diablo Canyon:
1. Diablo Canyon is situated at the nexus of at least 13 earthquake faults. Two of these, the Hosgri Fault and the Shoreline Fault, are classified by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) as “major” and “active.” Keeping Diablo Canyon operating beyond its planned closure is playing Russian roulette.
2. The Unit 1 reactor vessel was manufactured in 1967. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) reported it as “embrittled” several years ago. This reactor vessel has not had a mandated ultrasonic examination in more than twenty years. If Unit 1’s reactor had to be shut down in an emergency, there’s a chance that it could shatter like a glass of boiling water suddenly plunged into ice, resulting in unimaginable consequences.
3. Seasoned, highly skilled workers are retiring and moving on, resulting in loss of institutional knowledge about the unique idiosyncrasies of Diablo Canyon. The effect is already being felt, according to information provided to Mothers for Peace by an unnamed employee.
4. Underground pipes were installed at Diablo Canyon in the 1970s. These pipes are subject to high pressure and cannot be inspected. A severe earthquake is all it would take to interrupt the vital cooling water to the plant. Much maintenance at Diablo Canyon has been deferred because closure is imminent. This facility is OLD. These and other components are ready to retire.
5. The spent fuel pools are overcrowded to at least three times their original capacity. A “beyond design” earthquake (think Fukushima) could crack the pools, cause water to leak out, and the spent fuel could spontaneously ignite – the most unimaginable catastrophe possible. This is a “low probability, high risk” scenario, and it’s not considered by the NRC in spent fuel pool safety analysis because “it won’t happen.” We hope not.
6. There is exactly enough space on the dry cask storage pad to accommodate 138 spent fuel casks containing highly radioactive fuel rods that will be stored after closure in 2025. If the lifetime of the nuclear plant were extended, a whole new dry cask facility would have to be permitted and constructed to accommodate the additional toxic waste. With no federal repository for high level nuclear waste, it’s going to be stored on our fragile coastline into the foreseeable future.
7. There is no guarantee of “steady baseload power” from a 40-year-old nuclear power plant. Unit 2’s failed main generator was replaced for nearly $100 million in 2019, but failed again in 2020, working only 30% of that year and narrowly squeaking by during the peak load energy crunches. The complex and costly repairs of aging systems are likely to multiply in the ensuing years.
One must also consider Climate Impacts and Habitat Loss from Diablo Canyon’s Operation:
1. Diablo Canyon circulates 2.5 BILLION gallons of seawater through its piping every 24 hours in a once-through-cooling (OTC) system. Diablo Canyon’s cooling system is responsible for 80% of the loss of marine life on the California Coast. OTC is no longer allowed in California, but the State Lands Commission extended the land leases to 2024 and 2025 to coincide with Diablo Canyon’s operating licenses. With rapid worldwide depletion of fisheries and aquatic biodiversity, it is unacceptable to allow decimation of marine life in order to produce approximately 8% of California’s energy. Would the Lands Commission allow another exemption and sacrifice ocean life for Diablo Canyon’s operation?
2. The seawater intake structure is vulnerable to rising levels of ocean water brought on by global climate change. This is the water that cools the plant. During seawater’s circulation through the facility, it warms by 19°F before being discharged back into the ocean, contributing to ocean warming. Think about it: 2.5 billion gallons every single day for 40 or more years. The math and the impacts are almost incalculable.
3. Nuclear plants emit huge amounts of heat from nuclear reactions into the atmosphere 24/7. Where does the heat go? Global warming.
4. When uranium is mined, milled, enriched, and transported to nuclear plants, there is a spike in CO2 emissions.
5. Uranium mining has decimated some 27,000 square miles of Navajo (Diné) land spread across Utah, New Mexico and Arizona which is home to more than 250,000 people. Many Navajo people have died from kidney failure and cancer, conditions linked to uranium contamination. And new research from the CDC shows uranium in the bodies of babies born now.
6. When a nuclear plant is built, hundreds of millions of tons of concrete are also manufactured. And when the plant is dismantled, this same concrete, plus steel, electrical wiring, plumbing, and radiologically contaminated material must be hauled away. All of it contributes to climate change.
We can do better. People of the Central Coast have put up with living in a nuclear evacuation zone for the past 40 years. Nuclear power is dirty. It’s dangerous. Don’t buy the hype.
Gavin Newsom may be forced to step down as Governor of California if a recall is approved September 14 by California voters.
He and the Democratic Party leaders are busy branding the recall a Republican effort, including a lawsuit by Newsom and divisive ads with Elizabeth Warren as spokeswoman – “distract and confuse” tactics. Many Californians are not interested in party power games and actually care about officials’ actions, such as when they protect special interests including utility companies and Big Oil, and allow risks or harm to the public and the environment.
For example, in 2016, when Newsom was Lieutenant Governor and on the California Lands Commission. Pacific Gas and Electric applied for a new permit for Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant. The plant had never had state environmental review which many now urged the Commission to require. In addition,
– in 2015, it was revealed that PG&E had used incorrect safety data – since 1982 – and altered its operating license with the help of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to appear in compliance.
– Mothers for Peace SLO reviewed data and found PG&E committed 29 safety violations in 2014 alone, including inoperable backup generators. Fukushima meltdowns were initiated when the electricity grid shut down and backup generators failed when turned on. PG&E called these violations “gaps in excellence”.
– the plant and its desal plant cause extensive damage to the ocean, including its devastating once-through water intake system that kills marine life.
– the plant sits amidst an active, connected network of earthquake faults
– a nuclear accident at Diablo Canyon would impact critical agricultural lands north in Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz Counties, east to the Central Valley, and south to Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, harm millions of people including Los Angeles, cause environmental destruction on land and to the Pacific Ocean, and devastate California, ranked the 5th largest economy in the world.
These are some of the issues. Friends of the Earth said in March 2015, “Diablo Canyon should never have been constructed in the first place, and now it is clear it should not be allowed to operate another day.”
Further, the Commission hearing was occurring as PG&E was on trial for the San Bruno disaster.
Despite the facts and the dangers from continued plant operation, Gavin Newsom refused to require environmental review and refused to delay the hearing to allow the public and experts to evaluate new information and Commission reports.
Instead, Newsom led the Commission in voting to approve the new permit, and applauded a recent agreement allowing the plant to operate for nine more years.
June 2016 hearing transcript; Diablo Canyon consideration starts on p. 78
Preceding April 2016 hearing transcript; Diablo Canyon starts on p. 55
Newsom’s comments at the hearings were very disturbing, given the issues and risks and PG&E’s safety history.
After 2016, California was hit with the powerful Ridgecrest earthquake and its many strong aftershocks – a powerful reminder of the daily risks. And even a power outage can cause a catastrophic nuclear accident, because nuclear power plants rely on grid power to keep fuel rods and spent fuel pools cool.
Newsom’s critical decision affecting the lives and future of so many is one example of his priorities and judgment. This is the reason many Californians support a recall.