30 organizations oppose Diablo Canyon bill

March 23, 2016

Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant

Statement by Mothers for Peace

Thirty environmental, health and other organizations today announced their opposition to California state legislation that would mandate an analysis of purportedly negative – but not positive – impacts of shutting down the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

In a formal opposition letter, the groups say SB 968 could amount to “a state-ordered piece of advocacy for forces pushing for Diablo Canyon to operate far beyond its original design and license life. This could have great negative impacts on California. We recognize that this is not the intent of the author or co-authors, but nonetheless conclude there would be serious unintended consequences of the bill.”

“The proposed legislation is imbalanced,” said Linda Seeley, Spokesperson for San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (SLOMFP), the group that has fought Diablo for forty-three years. “It requires an analysis of the adverse impacts of shutdown, but not of a meltdown or other causes of radiation release, which could devastate the surrounding area. The bill doesn’t address the benefits of or aid in the transition to safe, clean renewable sources.”

“We have great respect for Senator Monning and the bill’s co-authors,” said SLOMFP Spokesperson Jane Swanson. “But we regretfully have concluded that the bill, although well-intentioned, could aid those forces pushing for Diablo to operate decades more, with all the risks that would entail.”

The opposition statement says that Diablo Canyon represents one of the greatest environmental, public health, and economic threats to much of California. Each of the two reactors contains 1000 times the long-lived radioactivity of the Hiroshima bomb.

The plant was built based on the assumption that there were no active earthquake faults within 30 kilometers. We now know there are at least four faults within that short distance, one of which is just a few hundred meters from the plant.

The ground motion from an earthquake on any of those faults could be far greater than the plant was built to withstand. Just as at Fukushima, a quake larger than the plant was designed for could release massive radioactivity and devastate a significant part of our state.

The construction of the Diablo Canyon plant began in 1967. Diablo was designed and licensed to operate for 40 years only. Unit 1 was licensed in 1984 and Unit 2 in 1985. Some of the equipment is already over 40 years old. Nuclear proponents are pushing to extend operations for two more decades.

The risks are just too great. The organizations say the state needs to quickly transition from Diablo to renewables, and Diablo must not be allowed to operate beyond its design life and original license period.

 

Following is the group opposition letter to the chair of the Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities, and Communications:

San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace
Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles
Southern California Federation of Scientists
Food and Water Watch
Green Action for Health and Environmental Justice
Desert Protection Society
Committee to Bridge the Gap
Azul
Ecological Options Network
CodePink Women for Peace, Golden Gate Chapter
No Nukes Action Team
Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS)
Nuclear Hotseat
Nuclear Watch South
People of Faith for Justice
Residents Organized for Safe Energy (ROSE)
Rocketdyne Cleanup Coalition
San Francisco Occupy Forum Environmental Working Group
San Onofre Safety
Sunflower Alliance
Teens Against Toxins
Women for: Orange County
Tri-Valley CAREs (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment)
West Berkeley Alliance for Clean Energy and Safe Jobs
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Santa Cruz
Green Party of San Luis Obispo
Nuclear Information and Resource Service
Public Citizen
Northern Chumash Tribal Council
Greenpeace

March 23, 2016

The Honorable Ben Hueso, Chair
And Members
Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications
California Senate
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814

Re: SB 968 (Monning) – Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant – OPPOSE

Dear Chair Hueso and Committee Members:

SB968 would require Pacific Gas and Electric Company to submit an assessment of the adverse economic impact for the region surrounding the County of San Luis Obispo that could occur if the Diablo Canyon power plant Units 1 and 2 were to temporarily or permanently shut down. We urge a “no” vote.

Background

Diablo Canyon represents one of the greatest environmental, public health, and economic threats to much of California. Each reactor contains 1000 times the long-lived radioactivity of the Hiroshima bomb. The plant was built based on the assertion that there were no active earthquake faults within 30 kilometers. We now know there are at least FOUR faults, one of which is just a few hundred meters from the plant. The ground motion from an earthquake on any of those faults could be far greater than the plant was built to withstand. Just as at Fukushima, the fifth anniversary of which is now, a quake larger than the plant was designed for could release massive radioactivity and devastate a significant part of our state.

The original construction began in 1967.  Diablo was designed and licensed to operate for 40 years.  Unit 1 was licensed in 1984 and Unit 2 in 1985. Some of the equipment is already over 40 years old. Nuclear proponents are pushing to extend operations for decades more. The risks are just too great. We need to quickly transition from Diablo to renewables, and it must not be allowed to run beyond its design life and original license period.

Reasons for Opposition to Bill

1. The bill is unbalanced. It orders a study of the adverse economic impacts of a plant shutdown. It does not consider the benefits of such a shutdown. Intentionally or not, the bill’s provisions pave the way for approval to extend Diablo Canyon operations beyond its original design life. As written, the bill does not address the adverse environmental, health, and economic impacts of a meltdown or other types of radiation releases.

2. The bill is conceptually flawed. When Diablo closes—as it must at some point—that isn’t the end of the story. The electricity produced by Diablo will be replaced by new power sources, many of them renewables. These will produce jobs and tax revenues and other economic, environmental and health benefits. The issue is not simply what will be lost by a shutdown, but also what will be gained.

3. There is no need for the requested analysis. PG&E in 2013 sponsored a study of the economic impacts of the plant. The number of jobs and the taxes paid are already well known. The requested new report is redundant and unnecessary, and would impose on ratepayers an expense for no benefit.

4. We recognize that the idea, briefly referenced in the bill, of also studying mitigation measures for job and tax loss may seem at first glance attractive, but the bill doesn’t do anything substantive in that regard, and the harmful aspects of the rest of the bill in terms of aiding in the push for continued operation beyond the original license period far outweighs that.

5. The real need, which is not addressed in the bill, is for the state (e.g., the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission) to commence planning for the transition from Diablo Canyon to renewables. The licenses for Diablo expire 8-9 years from now. Thoughtful planning for transitioning to new renewables needs to begin now. This would be a triple win: eliminating the risk of a nuclear disaster in California, building up more renewables, and the jobs and other economic benefits from them. But the bill does nothing to get the state on the path to that transition.

6. The bill would have PG&E identify contractors to perform the study, from which the CPUC would select a supposedly “independent 3rd party” to do the analysis. Given the troubled nature of the CPUC, the history of a too-cozy relationship with PG&E, the controversy over the illegal ex parte communications with PG&E, and the CPUC’s weak oversight of PG&E that contributed to the San Bruno disaster, the prospect remains high that the CPUC would merely select whomever PG&E wants. We note that a similar process resulted in a failure to select a truly “independent 3rd party” to conduct a review of PG&E’s proposal for an exemption from the Water Board’s Once Through Cooling (OTC) Policy. The Water Board was supposed to arrange for an “independent 3rd party” for this purpose, to be paid for by PG&E, but PG&E’s influence resulted in the selection of the Bechtel Corporation, which had in fact helped PG&E construct Diablo Canyon and which produced a report backing PG&E. The Bechtel report was called into question by many observers.

7. The bill fails to put the state on record that Diablo Canyon should not run for decades longer than it was originally designed and licensed.

In summary the analysis the bill calls for is unnecessary and unbalanced and could amount to a state-ordered piece of advocacy for forces pushing for Diablo Canyon to operate far beyond its original design and license life. This could have great negative impacts on California. We recognize that this is not the intent of the author or co-authors, but nonetheless conclude there would be serious unintended consequences of the bill. We urge a “NO” vote.

Sincerely,

Azul
Marce Gutiérrez-Graudiņš

CodePink Women for Peace, Golden Gate Chapter
Cynthia Papermaster

Committee to Bridge the Gap
Catherine Lincoln

Desert Protection Society
Donna Charpied

Ecological Options Network
Mary Beth Brangan and James Heddle

Food and Water Watch
Wenonah Hauter

Green Action for Health and Environmental Justice
Bradley Angel

Green Party of San Luis Obispo
Peggy Koteen

Greenpeace
Jim Riccio

No Nukes Action Team
Chizu Hamada

Northern Chumash Tribal Council
Fred Collins

Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS)
David Kraft

Nuclear Hotseat
Libbe HaLevy

Nuclear Information and Resource Service
Diane D’Arrigo

Nuclear Watch South
Glenn Carroll

People of Faith for Justice
Richard Kurrash

Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles
Denise Duffield

Public Citizen
Allison Fisher

Residents Organized for Safe Energy (ROSE)
Gene Stone

Rocketdyne Cleanup Coalition
Cindi Gortner

San Francisco Occupy Forum Environmental Working Group
Cynthia Papermaster

San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace
Jane Swanson

San Onofre Safety
Donna Gilmore

Southern California Federation of Scientists
Sheldon C. Plotkin, Ph.D.

Sunflower Alliance
Shoshanna Wäscher

Teens Against Toxins
Davis Gortner

Tri-Valley CAREs (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment)
Marylia Kelley

West Berkeley Alliance for Clean Energy and Safe Jobs
Janice Schroeder

Women for: Orange County
Judy Curry

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Santa Cruz
Sandy Silver


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15 Comments

  1. Harumph says:

    Fukushima wasn’t damaged by an earthquake. It survived just fine. It was the tsunami that did it in.

    (1) 5 Total Votes - 3 up - 2 down
  2. Slosum says:

    What a bunch of simps. Even true environmentalists now understand the value of clean, efficient and cost effective nuclear power. If these princesses really want to protest nuclear … they should go to Iran.

    (8) 18 Total Votes - 13 up - 5 down
  3. Gordo says:

    It is interesting that only 2 of the groups listed are from SLO. Since outside people feel free sticking their beaks in our business, I propose the following: A commission to study the positive effects of discontinuing the pumping of water from the Owens Valley to the City of Los Angeles. The negative environmental effects suffered by the fragile eco systems is very real, unlike the theoretical negatives alledged by Diablo’s operation.
    I am sorry if turning off Owen’s Valley water means people in L.A. will have to conserve their limited water reserves. Maybe the lack of adequate water resources will force those LA people to relocate to where the water is; just as shuttering Diablo will force local families to move “where the work is.”

    (12) 28 Total Votes - 20 up - 8 down
  4. Myself says:

    The antis will be here by the bus load to protest this, the simple solution would be to take a list of names and cut their power off at the pole, then we can then have a chat with the antis that oppose hydroelectric dams, and cut their power off at the pole, this is all so simple if you don’t like something don’t use it,but don’t force your ideals on me.

    (6) 22 Total Votes - 14 up - 8 down
    • kettle says:

      Lol You want to cut off people’s electricity if they don’t agree with you, but “don’t force your ideals on me.”

      Double standard of the week and a fine example of education in America.

      (-7) 23 Total Votes - 8 up - 15 down
    • tictac1 says:

      The problem is, how do you address a problem that is systemic? We’ve built an entire society based on the automobile and an electric grid that goes almost everywhere. It’s not as simple as not using a product whose manufacturer you dislike, when that product happens to be the basis of life as we know it, and there’s a monopoly on it.

      Yes, these people COULD all go Amish if they choose. But even that lifestyle has prereqs, like arable land the knowledge to use it.

      Democracy, by nature, IS the forcing of the majority’s ideals on the rest of the population. I understand why you don’t like it, but it’s what we have. In this case, though, I think very vocal and lobby-oriented groups are making it appear as if their views are popular among the rest of us.

      (8) 18 Total Votes - 13 up - 5 down
      • kettle says:

        “COULD all go Amish”What a tired slogan, it;s like the guy who thinks climate change is false because it snowed someplace.

        “lobby-oriented groups” Like the lobby-oriented group that pg&e help’s fund with far more $ local groups.

        (-4) 14 Total Votes - 5 up - 9 down
  5. Rich in MB says:

    The Headline should Read:
    “30 Radical Groups…..”

    Shutting down 10% of the States electrical power is foolish, and will only hurt those that can least afford it with higher electricity costs.

    The Green movement has become a fraud.

    (6) 22 Total Votes - 14 up - 8 down
    • tictac1 says:

      Actually, under the current structure, PG&E would have to purchase power to replace lost generation, and would not be able to pass these costs along. This was part of the puzzle in the PG&E bankruptcy.

      BTW, the Green movement was always a fraud. Nothing but more international socialist ideology here folks, move along…

      (4) 16 Total Votes - 10 up - 6 down
  6. bobfromsanluis says:

    Interesting that both of the first two comments don’t address the crux of the argument against the bill; that the bill itself is designed to only highlight or spotlight any and potentially all negatives associated with closing down Diablo.

    I actually appreciate r0y’s take a bit, in that at least he recognizes the potential risk involved in the generation of electricity by nuclear power. TaxMeAgain though, your last sentence surely applies to your thinking on the subject; do you have any concern about the risks that are involved in nuclear power?

    Diablo could potentially operate safely for another 10, 15 or more years; my suggestion is that the further out you push the operation of Diablo, the higher the risk goes that something catastrophic could happen. We are pushing our luck; the companies that produce electricity know this, so why haven’t they invested more heavily in alternative energy generation?

    I understand that the wind doesn’t always blow, that solar doesn’t work when the sun goes down, and even currently, the grid is designed to produce only as much as is needed at any given minute; there has to be research in a big way to find a means of storing excess energy that can be utilized on demand, on a large scale. The company that develops a method of energy storage is going to rake in the profits, if the technology can be developed.

    (-4) 20 Total Votes - 8 up - 12 down
    • tictac1 says:

      “my suggestion is that the further out you push the operation of Diablo, the higher the risk goes that something catastrophic could happen.”

      Let me ask you: if I flip a coin nine times, and it comes up heads every time, what are the odds it will come up tails on the tenth flip? If you answered anything but 50/50, you’re “math challenged”.

      Unless the plant systems are allowed to degrade, the risk doesn’t change with increased operational time.

      Why aren’t companies investing heavily in alternative energy? Well, the subsidies are there, and they are very attractive. Problem is, nothing else exists that can fill the role of nuclear power- high megawatt, steady baseload production, small footprint. Try calculating the square miles of solar needed to match Diablo’s 2200+ mW output. And it would still only be 50 percent of the time, at BEST.

      I’ve read a lot of the SLOMFP literature, and I’ve listened to them speak at NRC meetings. They are generally ignorant of both the science and application of nuclear energy. Their material is highly fear-based, which I understand, but this is harmful when trying to make decisions. They are believers; that is, no amount of logically argument will change their minds.

      For the record, I am NOT pro-nuclear, but I am pro-reason.

      (11) 19 Total Votes - 15 up - 4 down
  7. r0y says:

    Well, it’s no surprise that a bunch of anti-nuclear power advocates do not want nuclear power… I am not saying they do not have a case (quite the opposite); however, if your group becomes a well-known activist group that paints itself into a corner, then there is no getting out for the group, they have to be against something. This is the problem with “secret societies” and clubs, the group-think is caustic and incurable, no matter how noble an original intent or establishment was.

    That said, I am surprised the plant is still operational. I think any nuclear plant that is well over 30 years old (Diablo first started producing power in 1985, if I remember correctly) should at the very least have INCREDIBLY STRICT review protocols. Unfortunately, there is a lot of money and (pardon the pun) power in the power industry; they buy politicians from local clowns all the way up to national clowns. So excuse me if I do not believe “government” inspections, per se.

    Diablo is not the oldest, by far, some plants have been running since 1969 (Oyster Creek, NJ) and can continue to produce – which is actually BETTER for the “green movement” (such as it’s been fabricated), but what a dilemma, and at what “potential” cost? I mean, the jokes of the industry (wind and solar) are essentially grovelling under the massive boot of nuclear that they are not a good solution (and don’t get me started on their “green” footprint), and yet, we have failed to have a catastrophic accident (apart from some birds) as a result. Such a dilemma.

    Then again, I can name on two fingers (pun intended for our British friends) the number of catastrophes involving nuclear power plants in the last 50 years. Granted, there’ve been about 100 “accidents” – but other than Chernobyl and Fukashima, what great catastrophe has there been? Even those two aren’t really a catastrophe (worst-case scenario: up to 4,000 people dead from cancer later… maybe) as far as catastrophes go (think Mt. Vesuvius, heck to crack into the “top 10 worst” a catastrophe would need at least 250,000 dead).

    I love nuclear power for its efficiency and nothing more. I hate nuclear power for the potential risk involved in that efficiency. That about sums it up.

    (13) 29 Total Votes - 21 up - 8 down
    • Ted Slanders says:

      rOy,

      “That about sums it up.”

      Okay, everyone, no need to further this discussion along, it’s been finalized.

      (-9) 13 Total Votes - 2 up - 11 down
  8. TaxMeAgain says:

    People against knowledge. Note the list. I’d avoid trusting the opinions of ANY of them if they are against basic research. Their mind is made up.

    (15) 27 Total Votes - 21 up - 6 down

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