April 26, 2012 - MFP files two new contentions challenging the adequacy of PG&E's Environmental Report for the proposed license renewal of Diablo Canyon

The contentions assert that PG&E’s Environmental Report does not satisfy U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (“NRC”) regulations for implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) because it does not address PG&E’s plans for complying with recent NRC directives for seismic and flooding risk investigations and new safety measures in response to the Fukushima Daiichi accident of 2011.


 

NEWS RELEASE

April 30, 2012

Contacts: Jane Swanson Janeslo@me.com (805) 595-2605 cell (805) 440-1359

June Cochran gradofcal@yahoo.com (805) 773-2847

MOTHERS FOR PEACE DEMANDS NRC INCLUDE RESULTS OF POST-FUKUSHIMA EARTHQUAKE STUDY BEFORE CONSIDERING DIABLO CANYON LICENSE RENEWAL APPLICATION

On April 27, San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (SLOMFP) took action to ensure that the NRC’s consideration of Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E’s) application for renewal of the Diablo Canyon operating license will include post-Fukushima accident risks and measures for protecting against them.  SLOMFP asserts that PG&E’s environmental report for renewal of the reactor license should discuss the results of a new seismic study to be conducted in the next three years.  MFP also argued that the environmental report must present a range of alternatives for meeting new post-Fukushima safety requirements.

SLOMFP spokesperson Jane Swanson noted that the NRC had ordered the earthquake investigation to be completed within the next three years, but it did not require the results of the earthquake investigation to be taken into account in the license renewal decision.  “SLOMFP took action because that approach makes no sense,” said Ms. Swanson.  “Recommendations of the NRC Near Term Task Force, resulting from its studies of the Fukushima accident, document the importance of applying up-to-date information about earthquake risks to the decision of whether to allow Diablo Canyon to operate another 20 years.”  Ms. Swanson also stated that Mothers for Peace expects PG&E to compare the costs and effectiveness of a range of alternative measures for making post-Fukushima safety upgrades.  “PG&E  must do the best possible job of protecting public safety.”

BACKGROUND

In the year since the Fukushima Daiichi disaster the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has placed additional safety requirements on all  103 nuclear power plants in the United States. These requirements are designed to address what the NRC calls “beyond design” events – those that the NRC had previously  judged so unlikely that there was no need to take them into account when spelling out safety requirements for operating reactors. Fukushima showed the  folly of ignoring the possibilities of multiple events happening simultaneously, of one event triggering another, and of multiple reactors being disabled at the same time. It showed the vulnerabilities of spent fuel pools, all the more important because at most U.S. plants, including Diablo Canyon, the pools are more densely loaded than were the pools in Fukushima. The more densely packed the pools, the greater the possibility of fire in case of a partial loss of coolant, according to Robert Alvarez, Senior Scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies. See

http://mothersforpeace.org/data/20030122ReducingTheHazards?searchterm=spent+fuel+pools

The need for back-up sources of power that are not all in the same location and of the same design was also made apparent by the Fukushima events.

In its orders for improved safety requirements (ML12056A045 on the  NRC website), the NRC does not require the fulfillment of all new requirements until after two refueling cycles or by December 31, 2016, whichever is earlier. Meanwhile PG&E has applied to extend its operating licenses from 2024/2025 to 2044/2045. San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace takes the position that Diablo’s application for license renewal should not go forward until the new requirements are met, as there is ample time before the current licenses expire.

Summary of the Contentions

Contention 1: Environmental Report Lacks Information Regarding Proposed Modifications to Diablo Canyon Facility

On March 12, 2012, the NRC issued Order EA-12-049, requiring PG&E and other reactor licensees to: “develop, implement and maintain guidance and strategies to restore or maintain core cooling, containment, and spent fuel pool cooling capabilities in the event of a beyond-design-basis external event.” PG&E’s Environmental Report does not include this required information.

Beyond design-basis accidents are defined on the NRC website as “a technical way to discuss accident sequences that are possible but were not fully considered in the design process because they were judged to be too unlikely.”

The NRC has acquired “new insights from the events at Fukushima Dai-ichi” Events,” leading to the new requirements.

Contention 2: Environmental Report Lacks Information on Status of Compliance with Federal Requirements and Approvals

PG&E’s Environmental Report (ER) fails to describe the status of PG&E’s compliance with NRC post-Fukushima orders and requests for additional information relevant to the environmental impacts of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant during the license renewal term. These requests for information and orders for actions originate with both the NRC and the U.S. Congress.

Among other things, PG&E’s ER does not spell out how it would “develop, implement and maintain guidance and strategies to restore or maintain core cooling, containment, and SFP [spent fuel pool] cooling capabilities in the event of a beyond-design-basis external event.”

All of the requested information must be provided and actions must be taken within the next three or four years, i.e., well before the expiration of Diablo Canyon’s current operating license in 2024 and 2025.

SAN LUIS OBISPO MOTHERS FOR PEACE MOTION TO ADMIT CONTENTIONS REGARDING FAILURE OF ENVIRONMENTAL REPORT TO ADDRESS POST-FUKUSHIMA INVESTIGATIONS AND MODIFICATIONS

will be available at mothersforpeace.org by May 2. Reporters may also contact Jane Swanson at janeslo@me.com and request the motion to be sent as a pdf attachment.