Don’t fast-track Diablo Canyon license renewal

December 16, 2022

Opinion by San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace

On Dec. 6, in their second letter to the Commissioners of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) within the space of three weeks, four environmental organizations once again put the NRC on notice that the agency would violate federal law if it accepted Pacific Gas & Electric’s Oct. 31 proposal to resurrect and fast-track its review of PG&E’s long-abandoned 2009 license renewal application for the twin Diablo Canyon reactors.

San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (SLOFMP), Friends of the Earth (FOE), Environmental Working Group (EWG), and Committee to Bridge the Gap (CBG) warned that PG&E’s proposal runs afoul of the NRC’s safety requirements and procedures and would violate the federal National Environmental Policy Act. The NRC terminated the Diablo Canyon license renewal proceeding in 2018 when PG&E decided to close the reactors in 2024 and 2025.

‘PG&E cannot have it both ways,’ claimed SLOMFP Board President Jane Swanson. ‘PG&E stopped preparing the reactors for continued operation in 2016 and asked the NRC to terminate the license renewal proceeding. The company has spent the past six years preparing to mothball the reactors and has saved money by not investing in future operations. They can’t reverse course and revive a license renewal application that was declared dead years ago at their own request.’

Last September, the California Legislature passed SB 846 to provide PG&E with economic incentives to request a five-year extension of Diablo Canyon’s license from the NRC.

‘With years of extended operations on the table for this outdated and potentially deadly nuclear facility, it is crucial that we cut zero corners,’ said FOE Legal Director Hallie Templeton. ‘The California legislature has not provided PG&E carte blanche to seek exemptions and streamline relicensing. If it intends to continue operating Diablo, PG&E should be required to file an entirely new and up-to-date license renewal application, which the NRC must thoroughly analyze by the full letter of the law before reaching a decision.’

The organizations also noted that PG&E had no legal basis for its request to exempt it from important federal regulations requiring an environmental analysis before the NRC can allow the reactors to operate beyond their current license terms.

‘The last time the NRC did an environmental review for operation of the Diablo Canyon reactors was 1993,’ said Ken Cook, EWG’s President and Co-founder. ‘Given the potentially extreme impacts and risks of continuing to operate Diablo Canyon, it would be both illegal and sheer folly to proceed with extended operation in the absence of a thorough and up-to-date Environmental Impact Statement.’

Dan Hirsch, spokesperson for CBG, commented, ‘PG&E’s request to be exempted from regulatory requirements for Diablo Canyon is very dangerous. If the requested exemption were granted, Diablo could keep running, potentially for many years, while the critical issues of whether it is safe to do so are not yet resolved. This creates the potential for an accident and massive radiation release to occur after license expiration and before a renewal decision could be made on those vital safety issues. It is the proverbial nuclear version of shooting first and asking questions later.’

These groups, which submitted their first letter to the NRC on Nov. 17, pledged to continue their efforts to ensure that any license renewal application filed with the NRC by PG&E is reviewed with all the rigor required by federal safety and environmental laws.

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When you are trying to go from Step a to step l you must go to other steps in the interim. We are trying to make these decisions socially and not practically. That means we are going to put ourselves into a backspin and socioeconomic type impacts that will far outweigh what’s going on with the environment. The environment will be second fiddle priority-wise while people are trying to survive in a whole new society that does not provide the basic needs of humans.

Sure are a lot of comments made here by people who want to pretend that we have no other choices but dirty fossil fuels if we cease to pretend that continued operation of Diablo is not a serious risk. Overlooking the fact that uranium mining is horrifically dirty, or the fact that every step to build or alter a plant is anything but carbon neutral or that we have no real, secure way to store the mega tons of plutonium, which is so toxic that one atom is enough to cause cancer and the half-life is a quarter of a million years (an unfathomable can we are just kicking down the road to become future generations’ problems) Apparently, none of these people are aware of the push for alternatives, the continuous improvement of battery tech and the good old American ingenuity that we have always been able to rely on when we needed an answer to a difficult problem.

We, as does the rest of the world, need to develop alternatives to the sources named above because they all have unacceptable risks to the future of our planet. As we have in the past, I have confidence in our ability to answer this challenge. That will not happen if we keep sliding backwards to accommodate those who are making ridiculous money on said unacceptable methods of power. When we invest in the solution, we will have a solution and not before. It would cost a small fortune to bring that nuke up to safety standards (if that might even be possible), especially given that the ground underneath is riddled with faults and it is already scientifically proven that they would be capable of moving in concert to produce a seismic event that would totally overwhelm the capacity of the structures to resist. People must be making insanely good money to be willing to overlook what would happen in that event.

Something no one seems interested in discussing regarding this situation is the fact that as sea levels rise, so does the likelihood of seismic events, most especially on a coast that is defined by a fault. We happen to have that very situation. The only coastline in the world defined by a faultline. Just try to imagine how much shifting pressure is taking place, as the weight of increasing amounts of water accumulate against a fault that is already in motion and building pressure. Really want to gamble all our futures and the entire foreseeable future of the Central Coast to keep some moguls and a few employees in the gravy? And I didn’t make all this up, I got it from talking to a geologist who actually studied earthquake activity for some time. There are many others who agree with his assessment.

I would rather put my money on American ingenuity to solve this problem than continue to invest in the problems themselves. We have already made a lot of progress with alternatives. Remember when 9 a.m.-5 p.m. was the peak drain on the grid? Now it is 4 p.m.- 9 p.m., because SOLAR is in play in the earlier part of the day. There are many alternatives which, when put together, will help us thru this transition and give us the shift we need to insure a livable planet for us and our future generations.

Please look to and invest in the future, not the past.

The only reason to not continue operation of Diablo Canyon is PG&E. Have another utility company come in and operate the power plant. If the dysfunctional PG&E maintains Diablo Canyon like all their other equipment, get ready for China Syndrome. I’ve had to deal with their outdated unmaintained equipment this last year.

In 2035, when California turns off the Natural Gas, everyone with an electric vehicle is screwed. Natural Gas produces just over 50% of our State’s electric power.

The NRC was created so that fossil fuels, big oil, could compete with nuclear energy by adding huge amounts of unneeded labor and safety protocol. Think where we’d be now if we had built hundreds of nuclear power plants. Desal would be cost effective, oil and gas would be cheaper and there would be less carbon in our atmosphere.

Old hippies never die, they just fade away, except in this case unfortunately.


Let’s be honest – even if they did start the process over, there’s nothing they could say that would change your mind about continued operation.

This just demonstrates that there is little to no logic or reasoning left among people anymore. Opinions and beliefs are so cast in concrete that there is no room for discussion. We now just want to recite our 30 second sound byte and be done.

Just cut the power from the nuclear plant and we will deal with the ramifications later because our big brother government will fix it………somehow!!!!!

Brrrrr it’s cold and dark in my house and for the life of me I can’t figure out why.!!

Hey Mom’s. IF they shut the plant down what/where are you/we supposed to get our electricity from?

We’ll just build more Natural Gas generators… oh wait…