California Lands Commission set to rule on Diablo Canyon leases
June 28, 2016
The California Lands Commission is expected to rule Tuesday on whether or not to extend tidelands leases for PG&E’s cooling system at Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. If the Lands Commission were to deny PG&E’s request to extend the leases, Diablo Canyon would have to shut down in 2018, seven years ahead of a recently agreed upon closure date.
Last week, PG&E announced it struck a deal with labor and environmental groups to shut down the reactors at Diablo Canyon when their licenses expire in 2024 and 2025. PG&E has separate state tidelands leases for the water intake and discharge units of the power plant’s cooling system. Those leases expire in Aug. 2018 and and May 2019.
The cooling system sucks in water from the ocean and then returns it. The system is needed in order to keep the plant operating.
PG&E is requesting that the Lands Commission terminate the existing leases and issue a new lease that expires when the utility’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission license expires in 2025.
The Lands Commission discussed the request at a meeting in December but tabled the issue in order to allow commission staff time to analyze whether an environmental impact (EIR) report is needed. Commission staff has since said an EIR is not necessary, and staffers are recommending approval of the lease extensions.
At the December meeting, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is one of the three members of the commission, called for there to be a full environmental review before a decision is made on the lease extensions. Newsom also accurately predicted Diablo Canyon would close by the time its licenses expire in 2024 and 2025.
San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, which supports the immediate shutdown of Diablo Canyon, released a statement Monday saying an EIR should be required. Mothers for Peace says Diablo Canyon poses an unusual amount of environmental risk.
The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office also issued a statement on the matter, but in support of the lease extension.
“Sheriff Ian Parkinson maintains an early closure of the plant would jeopardize public safety by eliminating the approximately $4.5 million in funding that San Luis Obispo County receives from PG&E for emergency planning and related training exercises,” the statement said. “This is a cost the county would then have to assume which could lead to cuts in other emergency services. The closure of the plant will be difficult already, however, at least a 2025 closure provides the county time to plan for the financial impacts.”
Parkinson plans to address the Lands Commission during Tuesday’s meeting. The meeting is being held at the Holiday Inn Capitol Plaza in Sacramento, but the public can also view the meeting at the Morro Bay Community Center. The community center auditorium is equipped so that citizens can make public comments from Morro Bay.
The meeting begins at 10 a.m.