NRC hears legal challenges to Diablo Canyon license renewal
July 10, 2015
CORRECTION: PG&E paused attempts to extend its license in 2011 and has not determined how the company will proceed as they consider feedback on seismic research, according to PG&E spokesman Blair Jones.
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. faces legal challenges from two environmental organizations that oppose its bid to keep operating Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant for the next 30 years.
Attorneys for San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace and Friends of the Earth made arguments before a Nuclear Regulatory Commission board on Thursday. Both groups claim the recently discovered Shoreline Fault poses more of a risk to the nuclear plant than PG&E admits.
PG&E will need license extensions in order to operate the two reactors at Diablo Canyon through 2044 and 2045. The NRC is not expected to decide on the license renewal until 2017, but it may rule on the legal challenges in the next few months.
Mothers for Peace filed four legal challenges. An attorney for the organization argued that the 2008 discovery of the Shoreline Fault greatly increased the seismic risk to Diablo Canyon, and the 2011 Fukushima disaster showed earthquakes can cause more damage than anticipated.
Mothers for Peace also claims PG&E is ignoring a wide rang of renewable energy options that could replace the nuclear power plant.
Attorneys for PG&E argued renewable energy is unreliable and also poses environmental impacts. The two solar plants in eastern San Luis Obispo County take up nine square miles, but they only generate 10 percent of the 2,300 megawatts of power that Diablo Canyon produces, a PG&E attorney said.
Friends of the Earth argues the NRC should have required an amendment to PG&E’s license when the Shoreline Fault was discovered.
PG&E attorneys said recent seismic analysis shows Diablo Canyon can shut down safely if an earthquake occurs on the Shoreline Fault.
The NRC is currently awaiting an environmental impact report on Diablo Canyon’s license renewal. On Aug. 5, the NRC will hold tow meetings in San Luis Obispo to take public comment on issues that should be included in the report.
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