Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant | Credit: Tracey Adams

The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant is set to remain in operation while Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) works to renew its operating licenses. Some of the plant’s neighbors in San Luis Obispo County aren’t so happy with the decision, and Congressmember Salud Carbajal has succeeded in organizing a public forum with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to “discuss regulatory and technical issues” regarding the license renewal process and the safety performance assessment for 2022.

Attendees may ask questions and make comments, but the NRC meeting announcement states “the NRC is not actively soliciting comments towards regulatory decisions at this meeting.”

The meeting takes place on Wednesday, May 3, from 6-9 p.m., in the Board Chambers of the S.L.O. Government Building, 1055 Monterey Street. The meeting can also be attended virtually and by phone (see below for information).

Safety at the nuclear power plant has always been an issue for groups like San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, but concerns grew after a new earthquake fault was found offshore in 2008. Combined with what are said to be 13 other nearby fault lines, it has the potential to shake the plant harder than it had been designed for back in the 1970s. The NRC determined the new Shoreline Fault contained no such potential. More recently, deficiencies in NRC inspections in 2020 led to leaks in the plant’s cooling system from corrosion, which caused one of the two reactors to be shut down.

PG&E was ready to throw in the towel in 2018, choosing to abandon its pursuit of the licenses to operate Diablo beyond 2024 and 2025. But the heat of the past two summers, combined with California’s push to reduce greenhouse gases, generated a $1.4 billion flow of cash from the Legislature and $1.1 billion from the federal government to get PG&E to maintain and upgrade the plant’s reactor until 2029 and 2030. By then, the offshore wind projects Carbajal has been pushing for are scheduled to be up and producing electricity.

Licensing can take at least five years, but in March, the NRC decided to allow PG&E to pursue new licenses and to keep Diablo generating energy all the while, as long as it submitted the applications by the end of 2023.

The forum next Wednesday evening gives the public a chance to ask NRC staff directly about the “process and assessments that will be undertaken to certify the plant’s safety,” Carbajal’s office stated.

“I encourage each and every person interested in this topic to attend this forum — either in person or through the virtual options setup — to make sure everyone has a chance to understand the pathway ahead,” Carbajal said.

The available digital meeting information has been wonky, but this link currently provides connections for the Microsoft Teams webinar, teleconference information, and related documents:

Webinar link for the Wednesday evening meeting:

Teleconference information:
Bridge Number: +1(301) 576-2978
Passcode: 653145306#


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.