A. San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace case pending in Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals
Mothers for Peace is on the home stretch of the protracted litigation in our second challenge of the Nuclear Regulatory commission before the Ninth circuit Court. Like the 2006 ruling in favor of Mothers for Peace, the outcome of our case has the potential to affect policy for all 104 nuclear facilities in the nation. The oral argument took place on November 4, 2010. A decision is expected in the spring of 2011.
The arguments in the Brief accuse the NRC of the following:
1. Illegal secrecy: The NRC repeatedly refused to hold closed hearings where disclosure of national security information might be required – despite the fact that MFP Attorney Diane Curran has the necessary security clearances. MFP was thus excluded from participation in NRC’s decision-making process or access to the documents upon which it claims to have relied in reaching its conclusion that even a successful terrorist attack on the dry casks at Diablo Canyon would have “no significant impact” on the environment.
2. Purposeful exclusion of attack scenarios: The NRC failed to consider a whole range of credible attack scenarios involving the instigation of a fire in the fuel storage modules, which could lead to devastating impacts in the form of widespread radioactive land contamination. It further made an unlawful determination that any attack on the Diablo Canyon facility is “remote and speculative.”
MFP is requesting that the Court require a closed hearing on all disallowed contentions, to reverse the NRC’s finding of “no significant impact” with respect to the environmental impacts of attacks on the Diablo Canyon facility, and to revoke the Commission’s decision to issue a license for the Diablo Canyon dry cask storage facility.
B. San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace’s legal challenge of PG&E’s application for license renewal before the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board of the NRC
Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has applied for a 20-year extension of its operating licenses for the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant. The current operating licenses for Diablo Canyon’s two nuclear reactors expire in 2024 and 2025, respectively. PG&E has applied to continue operations until 2044/2045.
On August 4, 2010 a 3-judge panel of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) accepted four Contentions filed by the San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace.
- PG&E has failed to demonstrate the ability to safely manage the aging plant, which was designed in the 1960’s, and constructed between the late 1960’s and the early 1980’s. NRC inspection reports document an “adverse trend” of chronic errors in the management of safety equipment at Diablo Canyon. SLOMFP is concerned that PG&E’s inability to identify and correct current problems in a timely and effective way will be repeated in the license renewal term, when detecting aging effects like corrosion and degradation will be even more challenging.
- PG&E ‘s application lacks crucial information on the seismic risks to Diablo, given that studies of the Shoreline Fault, identified in 2008, are incomplete. Seismic studies of the newly discovered fault and its potential interaction with the Hosgri fault will not be completed until 2013. SLOMFP contends that PG&E and the NRC should wait for the study results before reaching any conclusions about the risks posed by severe earthquakes.
- PG&E has failed to address the airborne environmental impacts of a reasonably foreseeable spectrum of spent fuel pool accidents, including accidents caused by earthquakes, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act.
- PG&E’s application lacks a required discussion of the cost-effectiveness of measures to mitigate the environmental impacts of an attack on the Diablo Canyon reactor during the license renewal term.
A budget of $85,000 is projected for expert witnesses, attorney fees, and travel expenses for Opposition to License Renewal for Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant. SLO MFP is in the process of raising these funds by a combination of fundraising events and grant applications.
C. San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace participation in NRC public meetings related to PG&E’s application for license renewal.
SOME of the meetings listed in order, with the most recent meeting listed first:
February 3, 2011, in SLO - PG&E’s plans to update Diablo Canyon controls and communications from analogue to a digital system.
January 27, 2011, in SLO – PG&E's ability to manage the effects of aging on plant systems in the renewal period.
January 26, 2011 in Washington, DC (Diane Curran present)
September 8 and 9, 2010 Seismic Workshop in SLO
March 3, 2010 Environmental Scoping in SLO
February 9 and 10, 2010 seismic issues, spent fuel storage, long-term high level waste management, and the scope of the license renewal review, in SLO.
Phone conferences between the NRC and PG&E regarding license renewal happen very frequently. Diane Curran sometimes participates IN PERSON by being in NRC offices, sometimes by phone. Sometimes a member of SLO Mothers for Peace listens in also.