— Mothers for Peace argues for closure of Diablo Canyon in 2019

From Mothers for Peace
January 31, 2017

On Friday, January 27, Mothers for Peace through Ojai-based attorney Sabrina Venskus, submitted expert testimony to the California Public Utilities Commission showing that Diablo Canyon should be closed in 2019, not 2024. news release

One of Mothers for Peace’s expert witness, nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen, chief engineer for Fairewinds Associates, Inc, provided testimony demonstrating unsafe and unreliable conditions at the plant.  Arnie Gundersen testimony

Another expert witness is David D. Jackson who works with the Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences at UCLA.  In his testimony, Dr. Jackson explains the many types of seismic damage to the plant in case of an earthquake. Among his assertions is that the substantial risk of earthquakes at Diablo Canyon nuclear plant has been underestimated, and that the seismic studies relied upon evaluate only a part of the risk which affects any decision of how long to continue operation of the two Diablo Canyon reactors.  David D. Jackson testimony

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NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release

January 31, 2017

Contacts:  Jane Swanson, spokesperson

(805) 440-1359

janeslo[at]icloud.com

 

Linda Seeley, spokesperson

(805) 234-1769

lindaseeley[at]gmail.com

 

On Friday January 27, San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (SLOMFP) through Ojai-based attorney Sabrina Venskus submitted expert testimony to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) showing that Diablo Canyon should be closed in 2019, not 2024, because it is becoming unsafe and unreliable. SLOMFP’s expert witness is nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen, chief engineer for Fairewinds Associates, Inc.

“Diablo Canyon was designed in the mid-1960s. Some of its parts are as dated as rabbit ears on a black and white TV.  This atomic power reactor is old and tired, and it is not reliable or safe.  The faster Diablo Canyon closes, the safer Californians will be,” stated Mr. Gundersen. Replacement costs for these outmoded parts at Diablo Canyon during the next 7 to 8 years are well in excess of a reasonable investment for a plant that is scheduled to shut down in 2024. Mr. Gundersen’s testimony also illuminates the degraded condition of tens of thousands of often neglected switches, plates, springs, shock absorbers, pipes, and other components of this aged atomic power reactor that are in danger of failing well before 2024.

The companies that own nuclear reactors have a tendency to defer needed maintenance and replacement of worn parts when permanent closure is imminent. Called “running to failure,” the operator tends to take a chance that the part won’t fail before the plant closes down. In an old car that is ready for the junkyard the owner won’t replace worn tires with ones that are guaranteed for 50,000 miles. Instead, he will take a chance that the tires won’t blow out before the old car is junked. If there’s a blowout in a tire, it can be hazardous. If there’s a failure of an essential component of a nuclear power plant, the costs of of replacement or of repair of damage can be huge.

Mr. Gundersen’s testimony, attached below, cites numerous parts and components at Diablo Canyon that have been listed in the 2017 Rate Case by Pacific Gas and Electric as in need of replacement. In Mr. Gundersen’s opinion, shutting the doors of the two reactors makes sense in 2019, before parts and components are forced to run to failure.

SLOMFP is commenting as a party to the California Public Utilities Commission’s proceedings on the Joint Proposal reached in June of 2016 between PG&E and several environmental groups and unions. SLOMFP has also submitted expert testimony to the CPUC by David Jackson, Ph.D. regarding seismic damage to the plant in case of an earthquake. SLOMFP has joined with Women’s Energy Matters of Marin County regarding timing and costs of replacing the needed power at Diablo Canyon with renewable energy, using the testimony of energy analyst Robert Freehling. SLOMFP compiled documents regarding the environmental effects of Once-Through Cooling on aquatic life around the facility. By co-sponsoring a portion of the testimony by the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility’s attorney Al Pak, SLOMFP is objecting to PG&E’s request to recover the costs of its relicensing application filed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2009, but later withdrawn.

https://mothersforpeace.org/

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— PG&E holds meetings on Diablo Canyon deal

Great venue to hold protests and inform the public.

Press release from PG&E, July 10, 2016

…There will be four meetings, two in each location. The content of the meetings will be identical. This is to provide more chances for the public to participate. At these meetings, PG&E staff will present information about the joint proposal, address questions, and provide attendees an opportunity to provide feedback and commentary on the joint proposal.

In late June, the State Lands Commission voted to approve a lease extension necessary to run Diablo Canyon Power Plant (DCPP) to 2025, a critical first step toward realizing the goals outlined in the joint proposal. Consideration of the joint proposal moves next to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). PG&E will file the proposal with the CPUC on July 28.

Following these meetings, a public report will be made available that summarizes public questions and commentary gathered at these public information meetings and will be submitted with PG&E’s filing with the CPUC.

San Francisco
July 22, 2016
Meeting 1: 12:00- 3:45pm
Meeting 2: 4:15-8:00pm
South San Francisco Conference Center
255 S. Airport Boulevard
South San Francisco, CA 94080

San Luis Obispo
July 20, 2016
Meeting 1: 12:00- 3:45pm
Meeting 2: 4:15-8:00pm
Embassy Suites
333 Madonna Road
San Luis Obispo, CA 93405

Meetings are open to the public. Each meeting will cover the same information and follow the same format.

For parties unable to attend public information meetings, comments can be submitted to diablocanyon@pge.com prior to July 26, 2016.

Joint Proposal

Reflecting California’s changing energy landscape, PG&E announced a joint proposal with labor and leading environmental organizations on June 21, 2016, that would increase investment in energy efficiency, renewables and storage beyond current state mandates while phasing out PG&E’s production of nuclear power in California by 2025.

The joint proposal would replace power produced by two nuclear reactors at the Diablo Canyon Power Plant (DCPP) with a cost-effective, greenhouse gas free portfolio of energy efficiency, renewables and energy storage. It includes a PG&E commitment to a 55 percent renewable energy target in 2031, an unprecedented voluntary commitment by a major U.S. energy company.

The Parties to the joint proposal are PG&E, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245, Coalition of California Utility Employees, Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council, Environment California and Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility.

The announcement of the Joint Proposal can be found here.

The Joint Proposal can be read in its entirety here.

Additional Information

Information on the State Lands Commission approval of necessary lease extensions can be read here.

Additional information prepared by M.J. Bradley & Associates, a strategic environmental consulting firm, can be accessed here.

Media contact:

PG&E 24-Hour Media Line
(415) 973-5930

 

— Frauds: Friends of the Earth and NRDC abandon immediate closure of Diablo Canyon, claim victory despite nine more dangerous years

“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. Diablo Canyon must be shut down now, and there should be both state and federal investigations into PG&E’s negligence.”

Damon Moglen, Senior Strategic Advisor, Friends of the Earth, March 9, 2015

On June 21, 2016, Friends of the Earth sent out an email entitled “BREAKING: Huge victory for renewable energy” and congratulating themselves for closing Diablo Canyon. The problem is, it wasn’t true.

With no link in the email for more information, an internet search finally located the press release from FOE with the details and agreement documents.[i] They reveal a different picture.

Yes, Friends of the Earth, in partnership with NRDC and other groups, negotiated a closure of Diablo Canyon, but it won’t happen for 9 years – in 2025.

That is a catastrophe, not a victory.

The group is now lobbying the CPUC to accept this agreement and lobbying the California Lands Commission to give a “short-term” extension of PG&E’s lease of the land until that time.

Well-known names are missing from this agreement, names such as Greenpeace, Physicians for Social Responsibility, San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, Committee to Bridge the Gap, the Northern Chumash Tribal Council, Beyond Nuclear, Ecological Options Network, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Nuclear Hotseat, Public Citizen, Food and Water Watch, Tri-Valley CAREs, even Union of Concerned Scientists, and Sierra Club. They’re not there for one reason: this agreement lacks integrity and realism.

The only parties to the agreement are Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council, Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility, PG&E, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245 (IBEW), Coalition of California Utility Employees, and Environment California It’s worth noting that Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility is also supporting SB 968, Sen. Bill Monning’s bill.

Those of us who applauded the lawsuit by Friends of the Earth, after the NRC staff revelations about Diablo Canyon safety issues and all the longstanding safety problems at the plant, expected a real lawsuit, with real solutions proposed. When FOE called for an immediate shutdown in March 2015, Damon Moglen, Senior Strategic Adviser, said:

“It’s terrifying to think that for 30 years PG&E used the wrong numbers for vital equipment at the U.S. reactors most at risk from earthquakes. No one would dream of putting nuclear reactors in that location today. 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. Diablo Canyon must be shut down now, and there should be both state and federal investigations into PG&E’s negligence.” [ii]

Where did that go? This is not just a 180 degree turn. This is betrayal.

Their letter to the California Lands Commission called Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant a “GHG free generation resource” and states it doesn’t generate any greenhouse gas emissions—incredibly inaccurate but characteristic of nuclear industry propaganda.

PG&E Corporation Chairman, CEO and President Tony Earley …”Importantly, this proposal recognizes the value of GHG-free nuclear power as an important bridge strategy to help ensure that power remains affordable and reliable and that we do not increase the use of fossil fuels while supporting California’s vision for the future.”

…PG&E plans to operate the two units at Diablo Canyon to the end of their current NRC operating licenses, which expire on Nov. 2, 2024, and Aug. 26, [iii]

The letter says granting an extension to the lease would “directly promote California’s GHG emission reduction,” ignoring the danger of its continued operation every day which could destroy any future for California. IBEW got a guarantee in the agreement of $350 million for Diablo Canyon employees’ severance, retention, and retraining. Wow! What an amazing per-employee expenditure. Further, any approval by the CPUC has a condition that the approval cannot be appealed.

This is appalling, and the reasons behind this derailment can only be guessed. The organizations that refused to participate in this charade, that are opposing SB 968 in Sacramento, and that continue to fight to close Diablo Canyon should be applauded and supported.

Diablo Canyon is a ticking time bomb that endangers all life in Central California (and beyond) every day. This agreement gives Diablo Canyon and PG&E a pass for 9 long years. That isn’t progress. That is dangerous, fool-hardy denial, playing with nuclear catastrophe. With friends like these, who needs enemies? Friend or FOE? The answer is clear.

[i] http://www.foe.org/news/news-releases/2016-06-diablo-canyon-nuclear-plant-to-be-shut-down
Diablo Canyon nuclear plant to be shut down, power replaced by renewables, efficiency, storage

Letter to California Lands Commission
Joint proposal to California Public Utilities Commission

[ii] http://www.foe.org/news/archives/2015-03-diablo-pge-secretly-used-wrong-data-for-safety-equipment
Diablo Canyon: PG&E secretly used wrong design data for key safety equipment for 30 years

[iii] http://www.smartgridnews.com/story/proposal-would-phase-out-nuclear-power-california-support-state-energy-poli/2016-06-21?utm_medium=nl&utm_source=internal
Proposal would phase out nuclear power in California to support state energy policies

 

 

— Hearing on Senate Bill 968 Diablo Canyon, June 22

Hearing
Senator Bill Monning’s Senate Bill 968 on Diablo Canyon
Wednesday, June 22
California Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee
State Capitol, Room 437

The hearing starts at 1:30 pm.

The public may attend and give testimony on opposition to this bill.

Listen to this hearing )

Mike Gatto, Chair

S.B.No. 968 Monning.Diablo Canyon Units 1 and 2 powerplant.

http://autl.assembly.ca.gov/hearings

For the committee members and contact info:

http://autl.assembly.ca.gov/membersstaff

Committee Phone: (916) 319-2083

Sue Kateley,
Chief Consultant
Email: sue.kateley@asm.ca.gov

Edmond Cheung,
Senior Consultant
Email: edmond.cheung@asm.ca.gov

Heather Hamp,
Committee Secretary
Email:  heather.hamp@asm.ca.gov

 

 

— Action Alert from Mothers for Peace on SB 968

Update June 6: SB 968 passed the California Senate on June 1. It is now in the state Assembly and has has a first reading. Information on bill history :  http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billHistoryClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160SB968

ACTION ALERT FROM MOTHERS FOR PEACE

PLEASE CALL, WRITE, OR FAX YOUR STATE SENATOR

http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/ – follow link and enter zip code

VOTE NO – SB 968/THE MONNING BILL

SB968 would require Pacific Gas and Electric Company to submit an assessment of the economic impact for the regions surrounding Diablo Canyon that could occur if the Diablo Canyon power plant Units 1 and 2 were to temporarily or permanently shut down.

In light of the recent heavy push by The Breakthrough Institute, unions, and others to keep the plant open until 2044-2045, we feel that this bill will unintentionally become an organizing tool and “hit piece” for those asking for re-licensing.  Please write, phone, fax or email your state senator – tell them: VOTE NO!

  The bill is still unbalanced:   The inclusion of the words “beneficial” and “net economic effects” does begin the process of balancing the bill but that is where that “balance” ends.  The language of the bill itself still focuses on adverse economic effects.

  “Mitigation” is not clearly defined:  The terms “mitigate” and “mitigation” must be clearly defined or examples of the types of mitigation be described “Mitigation would include exploring the creation of jobs for which some employees at Diablo might be qualified or for which they could be offered training. Mitigation would also include the assessment of alternative renewable forms of energy that might be added at the Diablo Canyon site or at other locations in San Luis Obispo County or nearby regions.”

  There is no call to also study a successful closure:  SONGS was shut down unexpectedly thereby creating a lot of problems that would not have been present in a planned closure.  For a truly balanced study one must also look at another NPP that was “successfully” shut down.  In the State of California, that NPP would be Rancho Seco in Sacramento.  All of the waste is being stored on-site in dry-cask storage and the land around the closed plant is now a solar farm.  There are many lessons to be learned from Rancho Seco and a study of that closure must be included.

  The bill is incomplete; it does not direct a study of what happens in case of an accident: There are two ways Diablo Canyon will shut down.

A planned closure:

  • In 2024-2025 if relicensing does not occur and the plant closes when the current licenses expire

         In 2044-2045 if relicensing does occur.

An unplanned closure:

         The State Lands Commission denies Diablo Canyon land use permits and the plant must close.

         The CA State Water Board rules that Diablo Canyon is no longer exempt from the Clean Air Act and can no longer use Once Through Cooling.  The cost of building cooling towers could cause PG&E to close Diablo like SCGE did at San Onofre because of the generators.

         There is a larger than design basis earthquake that causes a radioactive release, spent-fuel pool fire or, worst case scenario, causes a melt-down in the containment.

Why would one look only at one scenario of early closure and not also look at the cost that an accident would cause?   If the County of San Luis Obispo and surrounding regions are to be able to use the information that this study would provide, they need ALL of the information not just some of it.

To determine who your senator is, go to http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/ and enter your zip code.

 

— Mothers for Peace asks Sen. Monning for changes to Diablo Canyon bill, gets no response

Update June 6: SB 968 passed the California Senate on June 1. It is now in the state Assembly and has had a first reading. There were a few text changes but not those requested by Mothers for Peace. Interestingly,  a provision for public hearings has been eliminated from the bill. Information on bill history :  http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billHistoryClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160SB968

Letter from San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace to California Senator Bill Monning May 19, 2016. The proposed text changes to Senate Bill 968 are here.

Senator Monning has not responded. SB 968 was passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Friday, May 27, and goes to the full California Senate for approval this week.

May 19, 2016

Senator Bill Monning
Capitol Office
State Capitol, Room 313
Sacramento, CA 95814

RE: SB 968

Senator Monning & staff;

We would like to try, one more time, to find a way to support rather than oppose SB 968. Below you will find our thoughts on the bill and what we believe it will take for us to retract our opposition. Please note that this comes from SLO Mothers for Peace; we do not speak for the other 30 organizations that have signed on to the opposition letter. When changes are made that we deem viable we will share them with the other signers to see if those changes will change their stance on the bill.

The inclusion of the words “beneficial” and “net economic effects” in the Legislative Digest and in the first part of the body does begin the process of balancing the bill but that is where that “balance” ends. Below we will point out where the language of the bill itself needs to be changed to reflect the balance that is necessary to ensure that this is a true study of all of the economic impacts, adverse and beneficial. In light of the recent heavy push by The Breakthrough Institute, unions, and others to keep the plant open until 2044-2045, we feel these changes are necessary in order to ensure that this study does not unintentionally become an organizing tool and “hit piece” for those asking for re-licensing.

The following is a list of changes and/or additions we would need to see in order to withdraw our opposition to SB 968:

1) 712.5 (a) (1) There is an incongruity in SECTION 1, line 6. It states: “. . .for the region surrounding the County of San Luis Obispo,. . .” Does this mean that the study is only for Monterey and Santa Barbara Counties? Shouldn’t it read something like, “. . .the County of San Luis Obispo, the region surrounding the County of San Luis Obispo, and the state as a whole. . .”?

2) 712.5 (a) (1) Line 15 “. . .for the state and local jurisdictions to consider in order to mitigate the adverse economic impact of a shutdown. . .”. It should also call for enhancement the positive economic effects.

3) 712.5 (b) (1) – “Estimates of any decreases in local or state tax revenues, decreases in workforce populations, losses in indirect or induced economies, and potential impacts to ratepayers from an early shutdown.” We would also like to see something like: “Estimates of any increases in local or state tax revenues, increases in workforce populations, gains in indirect or induced economies, and potential impacts to ratepayers from a transition to reliance on new sources of energy generation from renewables, above and beyond existing state mandates, to replace the power from Diablo Canyon upon its closure.”

4) 712.5 (b) (2) – “A review of the economic impacts that affected the region surrounding the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.” SONGS was shut down unexpectedly thereby creating a lot of problems that would not have been present in a planned closure. For a truly balanced study one must also look at another NPP that was “successfully” shut down. In the State of California, that NPP would be Rancho Seco in Sacramento. All of the waste is being stored on-site in dry-cask storage and the land around the closed plant is now a solar farm. There are many lessons to be learned from Rancho Seco and a study of that closure must be included.

5) 712.5 (b) (4) – “Identification of any contingency plans that could mitigate the adverse economic impact of a shutdown to state and local jurisdictions, the local workforce, and entities receiving enhanced tax revenue.” This is, again, focused to the negative. We believe it should read: “. . .plans that could mitigate the adverse economic impact and enhance the positive economic impact of a shutdown. . .” Also, the terms “mitigate” and “mitigation” must be clearly defined or examples of the types of mitigation be described “Mitigation would include exploring the creation of jobs for which some employees at Diablo might be qualified or for which they could be offered training. Mitigation would also include the assessment of alternative renewable forms of energy that might be added at the Diablo Canyon site or at other locations in San Luis Obispo County or nearby regions.”

6) There are two ways Diablo Canyon will shut down.

  • A planned closure:
    • In 2024-2025 if relicensing does not occur and the plant closes when the current licenses expire
    • In 2044-2045 if relicensing does occur.
  • An unplanned closure:
    • The State Lands Commission denies Diablo Canyon land use permits and the plant must close.
    • The CA State Water Board rules that Diablo Canyon is no longer exempt from the Clean Air Act and can no longer use Once Through Cooling. The cost of building cooling towers could cause PG&E to close Diablo like SCGE did at San Onofre because of the generators.
    • There is a larger than design basis earthquake that causes a radioactive release, spent-fuel pool fire or, worst case scenario, a melt-down in the containment.

Why would one look only at one scenario of early closure and not also look at the cost that an accident would cause? If the County of SLO and its surrounding areas are to be able to use the information that this study would provide, they need ALL of the information not just some of it.

We still have concerns about the selection process of an “independent third party”. However, we do understand that there may be no alternative to that selection process other than as outlined in the bill.

There are also some word changes here and there that would also balance the bill. We have attached a copy of the bill as we would like to see it with our recommendations in bolded, italicized blue font.

We look forward to hearing from you soon.

SLO Mothers for Peace Board

Elaine Holder             Sherry Lewis

Lucy J Swanson           Nancy Norwood

Linda Seeley               Molly Johnson

Jill ZamEk

Cc: Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson
Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian

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SLO Mothers for Peace          PO Box 3608   San Luis Obispo, CA 93403 https://mothersforpeace.org

 

Consumer group builds searchable CPUC email database

From San Diego Tribune:

By Jeff McDonald | 4:52 p.m. May 23, 2016

The Santa Monica consumer group that prompted an investigation into Gov. Jerry Brown’s top aide’s contacts with regulated utilities earlier this year has built a searchable public database of thousands of internal emails to and from her former employer, Pacific Gas & Electric, and others.

The emails, released under the California Public Records Act and as part of the utility’s response to the 2010 gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, were posted by Consumer Watchdog on a new website called PUCPapers.org.

The California Public Utilities Commission has been under criminal investigation since 2014 for its handling of the San Bruno explosion as well as the premature closure of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in 2012.

“The documents have already uncovered cozy dealings between regulated utilities and the government that go far beyond former PUC President Michael Peevey and one disgraced PG&E executive, to extend throughout the PUC, the Governor’s Office and other government agencies,” said Jamie Court, the Consumer Watchdog president.

“This is the political equivalent of the citizen science project,” he added. “What we’re hoping to do is give citizen activists the opportunity to explore and chart new constellations of corruption.”

In total, the database contains more than 130,000 emails and other documents exchanged between state regulators and utility executives, largely related to the San Bruno explosion, the San Onofre closure and the approval last year of the Carlsbad Energy Center power plant.

Much of the material previously was posted on the commission’s website in 2014 and 2015 or released to consumer groups under the public records law. But officials did not make the database searchable.

Earlier this year, Consumer Watchdog uncovered emails that reference former PG&E executive Nancy McFadden’s exchanges with Peevey and former utility colleagues, who appeared to have been discussing ways to get more utility-friendly people appointed to the commission.

McFadden, who resigned from PG&E in 2010 to become Brown’s executive secretary, became the subject of a Fair Political Practices Commission investigation in March after failing to disclose stock transfers and holdings regarding PG&E. She amended her disclosures but the case remains ongoing. According to PUCPapers.org, McFadden’s name came up at least 1,300 times in emails and other records, reflecting both her time at PG&E and her work as top aide to Gov. Brown.

jeff.mcdonald@sduniontribune.com

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2016/may/23/consumer-group-builds-puc-email-database/