Recent revelations of possible collusion between plant operator Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to minimize the effects of the many earthquake faults under and around Diablo Canyon, new information about hazardous nuclear waste storage conditions and the ever-expanding renewable energy market make this a key moment to finally decommission the aging and dangerous nuclear plant sitting on the Central California coast.
The weekend events began on Friday morning with a Peace Walk from Diablo Canyon to the San Luis Obispo County Courthouse, led by Buddhist Monk Reverend Sawada of Nipponzan Myohoj. The evening of January 23 featured a kick-off meeting with speakers, videos, photos and music for both activists and the general public.
Meetings of a coalition of organizations under the banner of Nuclear Free California were held on Saturday and Sunday, facilitated by long-time activist Harvey Wasserman of Solartopia, Jaqueline Cabasso of the Western States Legal Foundation and Mary Beth Brangan of Ecological Options Network. Speakers from Friends of the Earth, Sierra Club, Nuclear Information and Resource Services, World Business Academy, San Onofre Safety, RADCAST, SLO Clean Energy, Code Pink, No Nukes Northwest, No Nukes Action and many others joined organizers Mothers for Peace and Nuclear Free California in giving presentations that covered a diverse range of issues and perspectives. There were also reports from Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer of Fairewinds, Paul Frey of Frey Organic Winery, energy analyst Paul Gipe, lawyer Mike Aguirre, labor issues specialist Steve Zeltzer and Fukushima resident/activist Chieko Shiina who came from Japan for these meetings.
Topics ranged from current issues at Diablo Canyon to the nuclear weapons connection, Fukushima and a class action lawsuit against the Fukushima reactor manufacturers, radiation monitoring, transitioning to renewables, utilities reform, workers rights and creating a new job base and economy for post-Diablo San Luis Obispo County.
The meetings were attended by about 100 people – members of allied organizations affiliated with Nuclear Free California and individual citizens as well as award winning photographers, filmmakers, writers and media specialists -- and became a convergence of energies, all directed towards shutting down Diablo Canyon and moving towards a nuclear free future. In the true spirit of our mission to protect our planet and our children, each meeting began with a blessing from Fred Collins, Tribal Administrator of The Northern Chumash Tribal Council, and was graced with a prayer vigil by Reverend Sawada.
Harvey Wasserman of Solartopia summed up the conference by stating, "Nuclear energy is dirty, dangerous, expensive, and outmoded. Nuclear Free California is leading our State into a clean, renewable energy future, and in doing so, we will shut down the most dangerous nuclear plant in the nation."