Does San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (MFP) perceive or predict a backlash against nuclear power in the U.S. in general?
Yes! MFP has faith that the lessons learned from Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and now the Fukushima Daiichi reactors will register with the people of the world – as well as the regulators and producers in the nuclear industry. The Wall Street Journal supports this view by noting that “The ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan could make it harder and more expensive for U.S. power companies to finance the construction of new nuclear reactors, threatening to further complicate a process that is already challenging.” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704050204576218770088714038.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
MFP finds it encouraging to observe some of the actions taken by political leaders and State and Federal Agencies.
1. The NRC has acknowledged that the nuclear crisis in Japan could have serious implications for our own U.S. plants and has “launched a two-step review of the U.S. nuclear power plants…” (The Tribune, March 24, 2011) This greater scrutiny could improve safety at all 104 U.S. plants and will likely impact NRC permitting for new construction and license renewal.
2. State Senator Sam Blakeslee (San Luis Obispo) has asked Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) to withdraw its relicensing application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant until better seismic data is available. He convened a state Senate hearing on March 21 and criticized PG&E for “putting my constituents in a place of great risk.”
3. U.S. Representative Lois Capps (California) stated: "In the wake of the tragic events in Japan, seismic and other safety issues at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant must be thoroughly re-examined."
4. San Luis Obispo Board of Supervisors Chairman Adam Hill stated that the incident in Japan “raises relevant questions” about safety at the Diablo Canyon plant, such as how PG&E could guard against a nuclear reactor meltdown in an extreme event, and how the county’s residents could be safely evacuated.
5. California State Senators Boxer and Feinstein are voicing their concerns regarding the citing of the two California nuclear plants near earthquake faults.
6. U.S. Representative Ed Markey (Massachusetts) has called for a moratorium on the construction of new nuclear plants, particularly in earthquake-prone regions. http://dailytrojan.com/2011/03/23/nuclear-energy-still-valuable/
7. A long-time supporter of nuclear energy, Senator Joe Lieberman (Connecticut) called for the U.S. to “put the brakes on” nuclear power until the events in Japan are understood.
Will the events in Japan influence San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (MFP) legal actions and opposition to license renewal?
Absolutely. The events unfolding in Japan are a harsh reminder of the intrinsic dangers of nuclear energy, and MFP is considering our legal options for using the ‘lessons learned’ to support our current litigation: opposition to license renewal at Diablo Canyon.
Mothers for Peace Attorney Diane Curran has already filed a Freedom of Information Act Request on behalf of Friends of the Earth, the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, and Physicians for Social Responsibility. The Request asks for “All records created since March 10, 2011, containing measurements of radiation released to air, soil and water from the Fukushima reactors in Japan”.
How do the events in Japan compare with TMI and Chernobyl?
Information about the amounts and distribution of radiation releases is slow to come from Japan. Furthermore, the event is on-going. See the paragraph above regarding Mothers for Peace attorney Diane Curran’s pursuit of complete information.
A well-researched article comparing the three events is available from Bloomberg Businessweek at
What other actions are MFP planning?
In addition to our continued work on our legal opposition to license renewal for Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, Mothers for Peace is sponsoring two upcoming events:
• A candlelight vigil is being held in remembrance of those who lost their lives in the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear accidents in Japan. The vigil will be held on Thursday, March 31, 6:30pm at Mission Plaza in the center of San Luis Obispo.
• A rally and protest against license renewal for the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant is being planned to begin at noon in Avila Beach on Saturday, April 16. More information will be forthcoming at mothersforpeace.org and on Mothers for Peace’s Facebook page.
Does MFP want Diablo to shut down? When?
MFP has been opposed to the operation of Diablo Canyon since the group became legal intervenors in 1973. Since the NRC allowed PG&E to begin operations despite the nearby Hosgri earthquake fault in 1984, MFP has focused on forcing the NRC to do a better job of regulating the plant to lessen the dangers inherent in the plant. Since Diablo was designed in the ‘60s and built and rebuilt to correct errors in the ‘70s and early 80s, it was out of date when it opened and has now accumulated 27 years’ worth of radioactive waste, most of it crammed into overly dense spent fuel pools surrounded by earthquake faults.
MFP is pursuing the legal option to prevent license renewal, which if successful would lead to the shut down of unit 1 in 2024 and Unit 2 in 2025, rather than allow PG&E to continue operating Diablo an additional 20 years. More detailed information can be found on the MFP website:
Other legal options that might lead to an earlier closer of Diablo are not out of the question, as the implications of the Fukushima catastrophe become more clear.
How does MFP see the electricity from Diablo being replaced?
MFP advocates clean and safe sources of energy replacement combined with energy efficiency and conservation. MFP relies on experts and leaders in better use of our planet’s resources for its information. Two examples are:
• Union of Concerned Scientists
Climate 2030: A National Blueprint for a Clean Energy Economy
• Rocky Mountain Institute
http://www.rmi.org/rmi/ Also, the California Energy Commission has done excellent work to “develop energy policies that conserve resources, protect the environment, ensure energy reliability, enhance the state's economy, and protect public health and safety." http://www.energy.ca.gov/2011_energypolicy/index.html