Diablo Canyon should shut down now
June 21, 2016
Opinion by Jane Swanson and Linda Seeley
San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (SLOMFP) learned this morning of Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E’s) proposal to withdraw its application for license renewal for the two reactors at Diablo Canyon nuclear plant. The current licenses expire in 2024 and 2025.
PG&E’s proposal secures a date certain for the final shutdown of the last nuclear plant in the state of California. Since 2009, when PG&E submitted its license renewal application to the NRC, SLOMFP has opposed the operation of Diablo Canyon on safety and environmental grounds.
Mothers for Peace is also pleased that under the settlement, PG&E will replace the energy from Diablo Canyon with renewables. The settlement confirms expert testimony submitted by Mothers for Peace in 2015 – which PG&E disputed at that time – that the power from Diablo Canyon can easily be replaced with solar, wind, wave, and geothermal energy.
“We are pleased that PG&E now recognizes that renewables can replace Diablo Canyon economically,” said Mothers for Peace spokesperson Jane Swanson. Mothers for Peace also applauds the agreement’s provisions to provide economic protection for workers and the community.
Mothers for Peace remains very concerned about the safety and environmental risks posed by current operation of the reactor. As the principal watchdog organization over Diablo Canyon, Mothers for Peace opposed the issuance of a license to the earthquake-vulnerable reactors in 1973, and continues to advocate for strict safety enforcement before the NRC.
“During the next eight years, we will heighten our vigilance over safety at the reactors,” said Linda Seeley, spokesperson for Mothers for Peace. “Our work to safeguard public health and the environment is needed now more than ever. Every day that Diablo Canyon is online, PG&E is playing Russian roulette with the safety of our community
Among the issues that SLOMFP will be assessing with its long-time attorney, Diane Curran, are these:
· Even with a firm shut-down date, Diablo maintenance must be not be deferred. This is an aging plant, designed in the 1960’s and built largely in the 1970’s. The need for maintenance is on-going.
· Earthquake data are still being collected and evaluated, and the risk of an earthquake-caused release of radioactive materials into the ecosphere remains high. Mothers for Peace will monitor the data and refer them to our expert geologists. Mothers for Peace still maintains that the plant, built on active faults, should not have been licensed originally, and should cease operation based on what we know now.
· The majority of the high level radioactive wastes remain in the spent fuel pools, where they are the most vulnerable to fire, whether caused by an accidental loss of cooling water or by an act of terrorism. Mothers for Peace will continue to push PG&E to transfer the wastes into the most robust dry casks available.
· The NRC continues to require added safety protections as a result of the lessons learned from the Fukushima disaster. Diablo must be held accountable for meeting all those requirements in a timely way.
· The damage to the marine environment caused by once-through cooling should not be allowed to continue for another 9 years.
Read PG&E’s Joint Proposal for shut-down.
Jane Swanson and Linda Seeley are spokes persons for San Luis Obispo County Mothers for Peace.