Coastal Commission denies seismic testing application
November 15, 2012
The California Coastal Commission voted unanimously on Wednesday to deny PG&E’s seismic testing permit application and object to Diablo Canyon’s nuclear power plant’s consistency certification after almost 150 activists spoke against the testing.
Only PG&E employees spoke in favor of the seismic testing, which the Coastal Commission said in 2010 was a requirement for relicensing the plant so that it can remain online after its current license expires in 2024. During the lengthy meeting, three commissioners said they would like to see the plant shut down.
The seismic testing was slated to have severe adverse impacts on marine life and the commercial and recreational fishing industries. Of particular concern are impacts to the “harbor porpoise, whose range is limited to the general project area, and the entire population of which is likely to be subject to behavioral harassment,” commission staff said in their report.
PG&E applied for the Coastal Commission’s approval of its consistency certificate in 2009. The commission determined the application was incomplete partially because of a need for updated information regarding seismic studies that had been performed by the USGS and PG&E, according to a 2010 letter from the commission.
Then, in the aftermath of Japan’s nuclear calamity, the California Public Utilities Commission – the agency responsible for relicensing – directed the utility to do further seismic testing as part of its license renewal.
During the meeting, PG&E officials did not dispute the impacts seismic testing are slated to have on marine life and the fishing industry, but contend the long-term benefits outweigh short-term effects.
In 2010, 14 percent of California’s energy came from nuclear sources. Currently, the San Onofre plant is offline with no timeline for bringing it back.
Diablo Canyon is the largest private employer in San Luis Obispo County spending over $100 million per year in the county on products, services and wages. Paying higher than average wages, a shut-down is likely to have a profound economic impact of the county.