April 7, 2015
In two new contentions filed on April 6 before the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (SLOMFP) charged that Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) had skewed a new analysis of energy alternatives to ignore or reject a wide range of renewable energy options available to replace the power generated by Diablo Canyon. SLOMFP contends that NRC has no justification for renewing PG&E’s license in light of the wide availability of renewables that are cheaper and safer than running Diablo Canyon another 20 years.
The two Contentions, filed by SLOMFP attorney Diane Curran of Washington, D.C. challenge the Adequacy of PG&E’s Environmental Report for Diablo Canyon License Renewal.
SLOMFP asserts that PG&E’s Amended Environmental Report, submitted in March of 2015, fails to meet the requirements of federal law because it does not evaluate many of the energy alternatives that currently are commercially viable or will become so by the time the current Diablo Canyon operating licenses for two reactors expire in 2024 and 2025.
PG&E also fails to take into account the dramatic reduction in cost of renewable technologies and efficiency improvements in recent years. It also fails to acknowledge the deteriorating economics of aging reactors.
SLOMFP also criticized PG&E for understating the environmental impacts of renewing the Diablo Canyon license. “PG&E already has generated tons of highly radioactive spent fuel for which no repository exists and therefore must be stored onsite indefinitely,” said Diane Curran, attorney for SLOMFP. She noted that “as a result, the Diablo Canyon fuel storage pools are filled to capacity with spent fuel. The NRC has admitted pools are vulnerable to catastrophic fire if the spent fuel assemblies are not covered with water for any length of time.”
Linda Seeley, spokeswoman for SLOMFP, added that “PG&E should go back to the drawing board and provide an up-to-date comparison of the costs and environmental risks of continuing to operate Diablo Canyon versus adopting renewables and demand and supply management.” She called Diablo Canyon a “dangerous dinosaur” that should be retired.
SLOMFP’s Contentions are supported by expert witness Mark Cooper, Senior Fellow for Economic Analysis at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School. Mark Cooper is an expert in the field of economic and policy analysis with a focus on energy, technology, and communications issues.
San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (SLOMFP) opposes PG&E’s application for 20-year operating license extensions for Diablo Canyon units 1 and 2. The current operating licenses are in effect until 2024 and 2025, and in November of 2009 PG&E filed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) an application to extend operations until 2044 and 2045.
The Diablo Canyon facility includes two nuclear reactors and the storage of all the high-level radioactive wastes generated by those reactors since 1984. Currently, most of the used fuel (which is more radioactive than the fuel in the reactors) is stored in over-crowded pools. Approximately a third of the spent fuel has been transferred to dry casks.
SLOMFP filed a seismic contention in opposition to license renewal in early 2010. The substance of that legal challenge is that “PG&E’s Severe Accident Mitigation Alternatives (SAMA) analysis fails to consider information regarding the Shoreline fault that is necessary for an understanding of seismic risks to the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. As a result, PG&E’s SAMA analysis does not satisfy the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act [(NEPA)] for consideration of alternatives or NRC implementing regulation 10 C.F.R. § 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(L).”
This seismic challenge was put on hold for several years while PG&E completed seismic studies required by the NRC. The NRC has indicated that evidentiary hearings on SLOMFP’s seismic contention will be scheduled at some time in 2016.
SAN LUIS OBISPO MOTHERS FOR PEACE’S MOTION TO FILE NEW CONTENTIONS REGARDING ADEQUACY OF ENVIRONMENTAL REPORT FOR DIABLO CANYON LICENSE RENEWAL APPLICATION is available at http://mothersforpeace.org/data/2015/2015-04-07-mothers-for-peace-tells-nrc-that-energy-needs-can-be-met-without-re-licensing-diablo-canyon
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