No legal options for keeping Diablo Canyon operating

January 25, 2023

Opinion by SLO Mothers for Peace

The technical staff at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on Tuesday refused a request by Pacific Gas & Electric to resume reviewing a 2009 license renewal application the company formally withdrew from NRC consideration in 2018.

The staff’s decision affirmed recent arguments in the petition by San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, Friends of the Earth, and Environmental Working Group that resuming review of PG&E’s withdrawn license renewal application would be unlawful. The organizations demanded that the five commissioners at the top of the NRC deny PG&E’s Oct. 31, request to resume review of the application.

The decision is important because it prevents PG&E from making an end-run around NRC regulations that requires the company to file a new and up-to-date license renewal application. PG&E had admitted that the application was severely outdated and could not be updated or completed until late 2023 – a year before the Unit 1 license term expires.

It now appears that PG&E may have to close Diablo Canyon when its licenses expire in the fall 2024 (Unit 1) and spring 2025 (Unit 2) and keep them closed unless and until the NRC approves a new license renewal application.

The NRC also acknowledged that PG&E had requested an exemption from regulations that would require the reactors to shut down in 2024 and 2025 unless the licenses had been renewed by then. But the NRC postponed a decision on the exemptions until March.

Diane Curran, an attorney for Mothers for Peace, said that “PG&E does not have any legal options for keeping the Diablo Canyon reactors running continuously past their license expiration dates.” Curran praised the NRC Staff decision as “a correct and faithful application of NRC regulations and policy for fair, efficient and transparent decision-making.”

Further, she said it was reasonable to expect that the Staff would also deny PG&E’s exemption requests. “The NRC has no authority to grant an exemption that would extend the license terms past their 40-year limit, other than to renew those licenses. And the renewal process is likely to take years.”

Hallie Templeton, Legal Director at Friends of the Earth, said: “We are pleased to see the NRC using common sense and following the law when it comes to extending operations at Diablo Canyon. Requiring PG&E to submit an updated and complete relicensing application will help ensure that the NRC has sufficient information to reach a determination.

We will continue to watch this issue closely and make certain that government officials as well as PG&E fulfill all their legal mandates and obligations. When it comes to deadly and dangerous nuclear power, cutting corners is simply not an option.”

Caroline Leary, an attorney for Environmental Working Group, said that “It’s not too late for the California Legislature to re-direct the billion dollars slated for revival of these unsafe and uneconomical reactors to the support of safe and renewable alternative energy sources such as solar and wind power, energy efficiency and load management.

PG&E may not be familiar with hearing ‘no’ from its captive regulators in California, but it’s clear the professional staff at the NRC takes its oversight role and the safety of the communities surrounding Diablo Canyon seriously.”


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“…it’s clear the professional staff at the NRC takes its oversight role and the safety of the communities surrounding Diablo Canyon seriously.”


wonder if they would have felt the same if the NRC had agreed w/PG&E


Would really rather see new nuclear tech vs wind farm and it’s insane new infrastructure it’s going to bring to Avila. Where’s those Epstein loving elites like Gates and Clinton, Trump and musk and private business helping out?


The only way Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant will be relicensed is if they RELAX previously set safety standards and customers end up subsidizing outrageous. New costs.

So ask yourselves: Has the half century old Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant become safer? Has our world become safer? Is this really the time and place to be relaxing safety protocols around our most vulnerable nuclear power plants? (in this case, a power plant that is sitting on multiple earthquake faults and has been designed to only withstand up to a 6.8 earthquake.) The temporary storage of millions of pounds of toxic radioactive waste is extremely vulnerable, particularly to potential terrorists.

And in case you don’t realize it, the cost of the electricity generated by Diablo Canyon is not cheap. And you’re paying for it and will be paying for it for as long as you live, and the bill gets bigger and bigger every year tons and tons more radioactive waste is added.

If we must depend on nuclear power, We need to have modern facilities, and not depend on “the old Lady of the Canyon.”

Bottom line is that any company that would take over operation of Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant will only do so if taxpayers end up footing the bill in a huge way. It is not needed and It’s not worth it.


There are no facts in your argument, they simply re-apply for the license, all this is saying is that they aren’t able to use their existing renewal application from 2016 before newsom shut it down through the coastal commission water intake lease agreements.


The current safety standards say that the power plant should not be licensed beyond 2025. There is a reason for that. The plant was not designed to be safe and viable beyond 2025. 2025 was its expiration date. If it is licensed to be on 2025 it will in fact require a relaxing of safety standards or will require a serious and expensive upgrade to facilities that are not likely to happen.

And remember, the plant is not designed to withstand more than 6.8 earthquake.

Also, the vital sea water intake for cooling is vulnerable to blockage and serious malfunction in the event of a tsunami.


Cost: The rate/taxpayers have already bought DCPP – sunk cost. NO WAY building replacement renewal energy plants can be cheaper than continuing to operate DCPP.


relaxing safety protocols: Really? What is the basis of that, other than you conjecture?


earthquakes: In case you weren’t paying attention the update research indicated the existing design is adequate to cover an new findings.


toxic radioactive waste is extremely vulnerable, particularly to potential terrorists: I’ll give you that one, Superman could break bad and we would all be in trouble!


Oh yeah. Then tell me the annual cost of storing the toxic waste at Diablo Canyon. And then multiply that by the number of years that we need to store that waste in a monitored situation.

If you can’t give me those figures there’s no way you can determine that electricity from Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant will be cheaper than from wind farms or solar or more modern nuclear power plants that don’t produce nearly as much toxic waste per year per watt produced.


Shouldn’t the SLO Mothers for Peace be “working the system” to save the planet? Please consider the benefits vs costs of DCPP.


Indian Casino to prey on the weak or a Nuclear Power Plant to be funded by everyone? My bet is on the benefit for everyone.