2008-09-30 Mothers for Peace Comments on California Energy Commission Nuclear Power Plant Assessment

In its comments to the CEC, Mothers for Peace stated: "The Energy Commission, working with the CPUC as part of the CPUC’s authority to fund and oversee utilities’ plant relicensing feasibility studies, should develop a plan for reviewing the costs and benefits of nuclear plant license extensions, scope of evaluation, and the criteria for assessment."

The California Energy Commission has drafted a report on the vulnerabilities of the two nuclear plants in California to earthquakes, aging, and other major issues. See the January 2008 draft report The CEC draft report is in response to AB1632, and the context of this effort is fully described in the "Notice of Availability" document from the CEC.

  • Comments submitted by Mothers for Peace on September 30, 2008
  • Comments submitted by Mothers for Peace on October 21, 2008
  • Comments submitted by Mothers for Peace on September 30, 2008

    Jane Swanson
    Jill ZamEk
    San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace
    P.O. Box 164
    Pismo Beach, CA 93448
    September 30, 2008 California Energy Commission Dockets Office, MS-4 Re: Docket No. 07-AB-1632 and 08-IEP-1F 1516 Ninth Street, MS-4 Sacramento, CA 95814-5512

    Subject: Comments on AB 1632 Assessment of California’s Operating Nuclear Plants, Draft Report, September 2008, CEC-100-2008-005-D These comments are submitted on behalf of the San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (MFP). Comments are specific to Diablo Canyon, although some may pertain to both California plants. At the outset, MFP commends the foresight of Assembly Bill 1632, introduced by Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee.

    It is vital that there is a thorough, unbiased appraisal of the vulnerability of the state’s two nuclear power plants to human error, mechanical failure, terrorist activity, a seismic event or plant aging. The impact of nuclear facilities on public safety and the economy must also be evaluated. Although numerous and important vulnerabilities have been identified in this draft report, many of them remain unresolved and suggest further study.

    Access Road Draft: Page 13: “Liquefaction and landslides do not appear to be significant hazards at Diablo Canyon….”

    Page 70: “…potential landslides could temporarily block the access road at several locations. If this were to occur, emergency traffic would be rerouted. However, as discussed in Chapter 4, Diablo Canyon is located in a remote location with limited road access.”

    Page 18: “The primary concerns with seismic vulnerability of roadways serving Diablo Canyon and SONGS is reduced ability for emergency personnel to reach the plants and for the local community and plant workers to evacuate. Diablo Canyon is served by a two-lane asphalt road. During an emergency, this restricted access could result in traffic congestion and increase the potential for traffic accidents and further congestion.”

    MFP Comment: Landslides – whatever the cause - may not effect the operation of the plant per se, but the potential for landslides to impact the one road going in and out of the plant must be considered. A landslide could impair evacuation routes for the employees as well as access for emergency equipment and personnel.

    Knowledge of Fault System Draft:

    Page 12: “A consensus fault model for California indicates that the bounding faults of the San Luis-Pismo block have lower dip angles toward one another than has previously been modeled by PG&E. This fault geometry suggests that the occurrence of an earthquake directly beneath Diablo Canyon of similar nature to the 2003 San Simeon earthquake cannot be conclusively ruled out. An assessment of this possibility, if conducted, should include an analysis of the expected ground motions and vulnerabilities of plant components that might be sensitive to pulse-type, long-period motions in the near field of an earthquake rupture.”

    Page 12: “Future study with newer technologies, such as three-dimensional geophysical seismic reflection mapping, could resolve questions about the characterization of the Hosgri Fault and might change estimates of the seismic hazard at the plant. Similarly, such imaging at strategically chosen locations could serve to prove or disprove the existence of subsurface faults…”

    MFP Comment: The Northridge Earthquake of January 1994 was the result of a thrust fault. The December 2003 earthquake in San Luis Obispo County came from a portion of the San Simeon/Hosgri fault system previously thought to be ‘inactive.’ MFP agrees with the report that further geological studies are required.

    Seismic Vulnerability of Spent Fuel Storage Draft:

    Page 14: “…spent fuel pools are associated with a higher degree of overall risk, and they are also known to experience “sloshing”—the spillage of water from the pool—during earthquakes.”

    Page 17: “The greatest risk for spent fuel pools is the loss of water or the loss of active cooling. If not mitigated, such an event could result in overheating of the stored spent fuel and the subsequent release of radioactive material. The design of spent fuel storage pools reduces the possibility of drainage leading to water levels lower than the stored fuel; nevertheless, loss of any amount of water is undesirable. .. the spent fuel pools at Diablo Canyon and SONGS have been “re-racked” to provide increased storage capability by placing the fuel assemblies closer together. The more densely configured spent fuel pools are considered to have a higher degree of risk…”

    Page 146: “In 2003 Robert Alvarez… evaluated the repercussions of a loss-of-coolant event in a spent fuel pool that had been reracked and was densely packed… Alvarez concluded that such an event would lead to the rapid heat-up of the newer spent fuel to temperatures at which the zirconium alloy cladding would catch fire and release many of the fuel’s fission products, particularly cesium-137. He suggested that the fire could spread to the older spent fuel in the pool, resulting in long-term contamination consequences that would be worse than those from the Chernobyl accident.”

    MFP Comment: In 2004, geologist Jay Namson, Ph. D. prepared testimony for Mothers for Peace on seismology problems at Diablo Canyon. In this report, Dr. Namson states that, “DCNPP’s underlying seismology is significantly different than was assumed by PG&E when it designed and installed the plant’s seismic mitigation measures and that as a consequence public health and safety risks may well be significantly greater than previously assumed.” Dr. Namson’s testimony is available at http://mothersforpeace.org/data/2004-08-03MFPNamsonTestimony.pdf

    Terrorism and Lack of NRC Openness Draft:

    Page 18: “Although the primary focus of this report’s vulnerability assessment of the spent fuel storage facilities was earthquake-related, the AB 1632 Study Team also reviewed published risk analyses for terrorist events or sabotage at dry cask storage facilities. Limited information is available on the vulnerability of dry cask storage to sabotage, which is consistent with the National Academies’ finding when it conducted a study of spent fuel storage safety. While terrorist scenarios have been postulated that could release a significant amount of cesium into the environment, an assessment of the likelihood of such scenarios occurring has not been publicly released.”

    Pages 150-15: “The vulnerability of dry cask storage to a terrorist attack is still being studied. A terrorist attack that breached a dry cask could potentially result in the release of radioactive material from the spent fuel into the environment…”

    MFP Comment: A Call for Action to Protect the Nation against Enemy Attack on Nuclear Power Plants and Spent Fuel was prepared for MFP by the Institute for Resource and Security Studies in Cambridge, MA, in May of 2003.

    On page 4 of this report, the problem is summarized: “US nuclear power plants and their spent fuel are prime targets for attack by foreign or domestic enemies. The nation's 103 commercial nuclear reactors, their associated spent fuel pools, and the growing number of independent spent-fuel-storage installations (ISFSIs) are large, fixed targets that are, in a military sense, lightly defended. Although massive in their construction, these facilities are not designed to resist attack and have a number of vulnerabilities. Spent nuclear fuel is also vulnerable during transportation. A successful attack on a nuclear power plant, an ISFSI or a spent-fuel shipment could produce a large release of radioactive material, with severe impacts on health, the environment, the economy and society.”

    This is a 32-page study, complete with dozens of references. MFP strongly recommends the CEC take into account the findings documented in this report in assessing the vulnerability of California nuclear facilities. It is available at http://mothersforpeace.org/data/20030531CallForActionPdf MFP’s expert witness in its ongoing legal challenge of the NRC license of the ISFSI, Dr. Gordon Thompson, has done extensive research into the vulnerability of the dry casks to terrorist attacks and the consequences of such an event. [ SECOND DECLARATION OF DR. GORDON R. THOMPSON ON BEHALF OF SAN LUIS OBISPO MOTHERS FOR PEACE IN SUPPORT OF CONTENTION 2 REGARDING THE CONSTRUCTION AND OPERATION OF THE DIABLO CANYON INDEPENDENT SPENT FUEL STORAGE INSTALLATION, April, 2008]

    Pages 9 – 14 of this cited testimony describes in detail several well-researched scenarios of attack. It discusses four types of radiation releases that could be initiated by attacks on an ISFSI, as well as their respective consequences. In another report prepared by Dr. Gordon Thompson, [ASSESSING RISKS OF POTENTIAL MALICIOUS ACTIONS AT COMMERCIAL NUCLEAR FACILITIES: The Case of a Proposed Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation at the Diablo Canyon Site, 6 –27 – 07] he makes the case that in assessing the vulnerability of the ISFSI at Diablo, the NRC should be looking ahead well into the future.

    On page 9 of that report, Dr. Thompson states that the NRC “should consider the general threat environment over the next century. Forecasting trends in the threat environment over such a period is a daunting exercise, with inevitably uncertain findings. Nevertheless, if an ISFSI is constructed at Diablo Canyon, the security aspects of its design will reflect an implicit or explicit forecast of trends in the general threat environment. The forecast should be explicit, and should be global in scope, because the US cannot be insulated from broad trends in violent conflict and social disorder.” The same reasoning applies as the CEC weighs the vulnerability of nuclear facilities in California. All or some of the radioactive materials generated by the existing nuclear plants will most likely remain in the state and will need to be safeguarded from terrorist attack for at least a century.

    The AB 1632 assessment of the impact of nuclear facilities on the state will not be meaningful if it only looks a few decades into the future. Additionally, the previous section on the Seismic Vulnerability of Spent Fuel Storage is pertinent to the issue of terrorism, as the spent fuel pools are not protected by containment structures, leaving them vulnerable to terrorist attack. The consequences of a fire in a spent fuel pool are the same, whether initiated by earthquake or act of malice. California Attorney General Bill Lockyer letter to NRC dated Feb 28, 2003, stated, “The proposed expansion of DCPP’s spent fuel storage facility is inherently risky. DCPP is sited in a seismically active area. Both the power generation and spent fuel storage facilities at DCPP present targets for cataclysmic acts of terrorism and sabotage. The eventual transportation of spent fuel from DCPP on the highways of California poses the danger of release of nuclear waste to the environment. The public has the right to ask that every reasonable measure be taken to minimize these risks, and the right to know that every such measure has been taken.” The letter includes many specifics of hazards related to the ISFSI at Diablo Canyon and to the storage of nuclear wastes in general. The concerns of a high official of the state of California should be reviewed as part of the AB 1632 assessment.

    That letter is available on the MFP website at http://mothersforpeace.org/data/20030228AttorneyGeneralCalLetter/?searchterm=seismic%20CPUC. The CEC can also access it through office of the Attorney General.

    The National Academy of Sciences prepared a report in 2005 at the request of the United States Congress. Section 2 of that report, beginning on page 15, is on the topic of Terrorist Attacks on Spent Fuel Storage. MFP urges the CEC to also review this study. It is accessible on MFP website at http://mothersforpeace.org/data/2005.04.06-NAS.

    NRC.SafetySecuritySpentFuel.pdf, and is also available through the National Academy of Sciences. Another study, dated January, 2003, describes the risks of densely packed spent fuel storage pools. Titled Reducing the Hazards from Stored Spent Power-Reactor Fuel in the United States, it was authored by Robert Alvarez, Jan Beyea, Klaus Janberg, Jungmin Kang, Ed Lyman, Allison Macfarlane, Gordon Thompson, and Frank N. von Hippel. Because the spent fuel rods are now racked “at densities that approach those in reactor cores…in case of a loss of water in the pool, convective air cooling would be relatively ineffective in such a “dense-packed” pool. Spent fuel recently discharged from a reactor could heat up relatively rapidly to temperatures at which the zircaloy fuel cladding could catch fire and the fuel’s volatile fission products, including 30-year half-life 137Cs, would be released. The fire could well spread to older spent fuel. The long-term land-contamination consequences of such an event could be significantly worse than those from Chernobyl.” ( Quote is from page 1 of the 51 page report.) This report is available at http://mothersforpeace.org/data/20030122ReducingTheHazardsPdf

    Safety Culture Draft:

    Page19: “Diablo Canyon appears to have a relatively effective safety culture…” Page 182: “In a safety conscious work environment “employees feel free to raise safety concerns, both to their management and to the NRC, without fear of retaliation.”423

    Page 184: “There has, however, been a recent spike in allegations regarding Diablo Canyon—10 allegations were submitted between January and May 2008.” “At this point it is unclear whether these allegations will be substantiated and whether they will result in enforcement action.

    San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (MFP) filed one of the allegations, stating in a letter on April 14, 2008, that it had received information from Diablo Canyon employees reporting that workers perceive a high likelihood of managerial retaliation if they raise safety concerns.438 The allegation describes an incident in which a worker received a poor performance evaluation after filing a Difference of Professional Opinion. In addition, MFP alleges that workers have lost trust in the Employee Concerns group and that PG&E has skirted qualifications requirements in hiring new supervisors and managers.439 It is unclear whether the NRC has substantiated these allegations and to what extent they have responded to the MFP allegation due to the confidentiality of the review process.”

    MFP Comment: The NRC has recently completed their investigation of these allegations. In a letter dated September 8, 2008, the NRC’s Senior Allegation Coordinator stated that they did not substantiate any of these allegations and asserts that even though a few employees believed that another individual had been subjected to retaliation for raising a Differing Professional Opinion, this belief would not prevent them from raising concerns themselves. The NRC also found that even though some individuals lacked confidence in the licensee’s Employee Concerns Program, that belief would not prevent them from raising concerns using a number of other methods. The licensee conducted the employee interviews related to the allegation regarding a “chilled environment” and stated to the NRC that the allegation was not substantiated. MFP asserts that the conclusions of this investigation are questionable at best, given that the licensee was investigating itself by conducting the employee interviews. Additionally, the belief held by employees that some personnel are being subjected to retaliation is sufficient to cause a chilling effect.

    Safety culture will in all likelihood be an on-going issue and will merit periodic review by the CEC as future allegations are processed.

    Evaluating Economic Extravagance, the Need for Power, and Public Safety Draft: Page 19: “Simulations find that no electricity supply shortages would occur as the result of either Diablo Canyon or SONGS being unexpectedly shut down for an extended period in the near term,…”

    Page 20: “A prolonged shutdown of Diablo Canyon would not pose reliability concerns.”

    Page 24: ”Recent announcements of several planned large-scale solar facilities in San Luis Obispo County suggest that renewable power development could benefit San Luis Obispo County, thereby limiting the transfer of benefits away from the County… The economic impacts of closing Diablo Canyon could be offset by economic gains from alternate uses of the plant site, other commercial or industrial development elsewhere in the county, or a potential increase in property values as a result of the plant closure.”

    Page 23: “The long-term storage, packaging, and transport of this waste add to the expense and the risk of nuclear power in California.”

    Page 25: “The costs for constructing and loading the dry cask storage facilities are substantial. On a present value basis, the total cost is $160 million for Diablo Canyon…”

    Page 26: “The costs for transport of spent fuel to off-site storage or disposal facilities will be substantial, including costs for security, accident prevention, and emergency preparedness.”

    Page 26: “…a substantial quantity of low-level waste will need to be disposed of when the plants are decommissioned, and the cost to transport and dispose of this waste, presuming a disposal facility is available, is expected to be hundreds of millions of dollars or more. Low-level waste disposal costs have been rising in recent years, and current estimates of disposal costs during decommissioning are based on outdated cost information. Costs could be substantially higher than estimated during the most recent California regulatory proceeding on decommissioning costs in 2005. ‘

    Page 28: “No power generation technology is free of environmental impacts….” BUT “Nuclear energy generation also imposes impacts from nuclear waste storage, transport, and disposal and from a potential major plant accident or terrorist event.”

    MFP Comment: While the probability of a major release of radiation from a California nuclear facility can not be quantified with precision, the economic, environmental and health consequences of such an event have been well quantified by Dr. Gordon Thompson. [ASSESSING RISKS OF POTENTIAL MALICIOUS ACTIONS AT COMMERCIAL NUCLEAR FACILITIES: The Case of a Proposed Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation at the Diablo Canyon Site By Gordon R. Thompson, 27 June 2007] One major release of radiation would have consequences so dire and long-lasting that any case presenting nuclear power in a favorable economic light would be negated.

    To assert that nuclear power is an economic asset is to assert that there will never be a major radiological release from a reactor, a spent fuel pool, a dry cask facility, or from fuel in transit through a major city. There is no justification for such an assumption.

    Maintenance and the Cost of Nuclear Power Draft:

    Page 29: “The cost of power from the nuclear plants over the license renewal period will be linked to the performance of the plants. If the plants maintain high levels of performance and safety and do not require significant repairs, the costs could remain comparable to current levels with relatively minor increases due to higher nuclear fuel costs and potentially stricter security requirements. However, degradation of major components or extended outages could result in much higher costs.

    In addition, the plants may be required to retrofit their once-through cooling systems prior to a license renewal. In a study for the Ocean Protection Council, Tetra Tech estimated that the retrofit and outage would cost a net present value of $2.6 billion at SONGS and $3.0 billion at Diablo Canyon.”

    Page 29: “In addition, it is important to consider the environmental impacts from plant operations over an extended 20-year license period, including once-through cooling ocean impacts and impacts from continuing waste accumulation at these plants. The extent of the impacts will depend on the outcomes of state and federal policies and requirements for once-through cooling and on whether a long-term solution to the waste disposal problem is found.”

    Page 171: “Degradation of nuclear plant components can have economic, reliability, and safety implications.”

    Page 173: “…originally designed to last the life of a plant, the thousands of tubes in steam generators have degraded more rapidly than expected.”

    Pages 177-178: “Indeed, the steam generators at the plants will be replaced between 2008 and 2010 and the reactor vessel heads will be replaced between 2009 and 2012.”

    MFP Comments: The maintenance costs of a nuclear facility are tremendous, and at the Diablo Canyon facility, these expenses are passed onto the ratepayers. Significant degradation of major components has already occurred. The ongoing replacement of the 8 steam generators that were, in fact, flawed even when originally installed is one example of a high-cost maintenance project. David Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists has written a report titled “U.S. Nuclear Plants in the 21st Century: The Risk of a Lifetime” published May, 2004. It is available at http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/nuclear_power/nuclear04fnl.pdf

    On page 14 of that report the author gives an example of flawed maintenance practice at Diablo Canyon Unit Two that is illustrative of the risks and uncertainties that exist where regulations, human judgment and mechanical failure intersect.

    On pages 21 and 22 David Lochbaum describes some of the inadequacies in the NRC license renewal process that have the potential to impact both economics and public safety in California as the two existing plants apply for renewals, as expected. “If today’s existing nuclear reactors are to be in service for another 20 years, there needs to be strong aging management programs at all reactors to ensure failures are found before it is too late.” The report goes on to spell out three major reforms necessary to the license renewal process. MFP strongly suggests AB1632 takes into account the problems presented in this report as part of its assessment of nuclear power in California. Typographical Error: Disclaimer: 2nd paragraph “…to a major disruption due to a seismic event {of} plant aging.”

    Comments submitted by Mothers for Peace on October 21, 2008

    Jane Swanson
    Jill ZamEk
    San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace
    P.O. Box 164
    Pismo Beach, CA 93448

    October 21, 2008 California Energy Commission Dockets Office, MS-4 Re: Docket No. 07-AB-1632 and 08-IEP-1F 1516 Ninth Street, MS-4 Sacramento, CA 95814-5512 docket@energy.state.ca.us Subject: California Energy Commission 2008, An Assessment of California’s Operating Nuclear Power Plants: AB 1632 Committee Report, CEC‐100‐2008‐108‐CTD

    This document conveys the comments of San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (MFP). MFP again commends the foresight of Assembly Bill 1632, introduced by Sam Blakeslee. The AB 1632 Committee Report is particularly beneficial in the fact that it reveals all that is NOT yet known about the potential problems and impacts of the continued operation of the two nuclear power plants in California. For purposes of clarity, sections of the AB 1632 Report are quoted in italics.

    MFP comments follow the sections to which they pertain, are indented, and are not in italics. p. 3 Seismic Hazards at Diablo Canyon

    MFP COMMENTS: Page 5 of the report acknowledges that some scientists believe that the Hosgri Fault is a thrust fault, that “the implications of a thrust fault characterization for the seismic vulnerability of Diablo are uncertain”, and that “ PG&E has not published an analysis showing the implications of 100 percent thrust faulting on the safety of the plant.” However, no recommendations are made for PG&E to publish such an analysis or for any type of study to determine the effects a 100 percent thrust fault could have on the plant. p. 6-7 Seismic Hazards at the Diablo Canyon Facility MFP COMMENT: MFP agrees with the Report statement that there is still much to be learned about the faults in the vicinity of Diablo Canyon and whether or not the design of the plant is adequate. MFP supports all the recommendations in this portion of the Report, and it emphasizes #4 which REQUIRES further study as part of the license renewal feasibility assessment for the CPUC. That study must include analysis independent of the utility. In addition, the report must include a recommendation that the analysis incorporate the effects of an earthquake on transformers, containers, piping, and mechanical and electrical equipment that are not built to withstand a significant seismic event. p. 14 Vulnerability of Spent Fuel Storage Facilities to Seismic and Terrorist Events p. 14, paragraph 1 The spent fuel pools and dry cask storage facilities at Diablo Canyon and SONGS have been designed to sustain a design basis (“safe shutdown”) earthquake at the plants, and they are unlikely to fail due to an earthquake. MFP COMMENT: The term “unlikely” is not informative in this context. At the present time, it is unknown how long those facilities will contain radioactive wastes and it is unknown how the passage of decades will affect vulnerability to earthquakes. The dry casks are generally licensed for 20 years at the time of installation, and yet there is no basis for assuming that the contents of those casks will not still be present 40, 60, or 80 years ( or more) into the future. Neither is it known what provisions or requirements might be ordered by the NRC for re-licensing or replacing the casks in the future. p. 14, paragraph 2 The greatest risk to any nuclear spent fuel pool is the loss of water or the loss of active cooling. A loss of cooling event could be precipitated by earthquakes or a terrorist event. If not mitigated, such an event could result in overheating of the stored spent fuel, melting of the fuel cladding, and the subsequent release of radioactive material.

    MFP COMMENT: The above paragraph fails to include the possibility of combustion of zircolay cladding of spent fuel inside the dry casks. Such an event would result in fire releasing cesium-137, a much more serious event than the melting of fuel cladding. The scenarios of how such a fire could be initiated are clearly documented in section V, paragraph 8 (page 11) of the SECOND DECLARATION OF DR. GORDON R. THOMPSON ON BEHALF OF SAN LUIS OBISPO MOTHERS FOR PEACE IN SUPPORT OF CONTENTION 2 REGARDING THE CONSTRUCTION AND OPERATION OF THE DIABLO CANYON INDEPENDENT SPENT FUEL STORAGE INSTALLATION, April, 2008. MFP will send electronically and also in hard copy the complete 26-page report referred to above. Readers will find numerous footnotes and references within the report to document its statements and conclusions. p. 14, paragraph 2 The spent fuel pools are not expected to suffer a catastrophic loss of cooling as the result of earthquakes.

    MFP COMMENT: The term “not expected to” is without clear meaning. Again, there is the problem of anticipating the number of decades that fuel will be stored in the pools, and the effects of time and stress on the mechanics and the materials being relied upon to prevent such a loss of cooling. Since none of these factors can be foreseen, the statement lacks validity. p. 14, paragraph 5 In general, a dry cask storage facility is considered to have a lower degree of overall risk than a spent fuel pool. Over the last 20 years, there have been no radiation releases from a dry cask storage facility that have affected the public, no radioactive contamination, and no known or suspected attempts of sabotage.

    MFP COMMENT: Given that the length of time that dry casks will be needed in California is unknown but can reasonably be projected to be in multiples of 20 years, no conclusions can be drawn from the above paragraph. Neither can this report rule out possibilities that over the decades the dry casks in use today may degrade, might be replaced, or that a mishap might occur during the transfer of spent fuel into a cask. p. 15, paragraph 3 Limited information is available on the vulnerability of dry cask storage to sabotage or terrorist attack, which is consistent with the National Academies’ findings in its 2006 study of commercial spent fuel storage safety and security. While terrorist scenarios have been postulated that could release large quantities of radioactive materials into the environment, an assessment of the likelihood of such scenarios occurring has not been publicly released. Such information is needed for state planning for emergency response and consequence mitigation.

    MFP COMMENT: Mothers for Peace strongly concurs with this finding. The NRC has not revealed the quantitative basis for its recent rulemaking on the Design Basis Threat, which does not require that plant operators have in place plans to defend reactors or spent fuel facilities from attacks from the air. And MFP is in the midst of a legal challenge of the NRC Staff finding that even a successful terrorist attack on the dry casks at Diablo Canyon would have “no significant impact”. NRC Staff went so far as to state at a July 1, 2008 Hearing before the Nuclear Regulatory Commissioners that no quantitative analysis was done, nor is it needed to support the finding of “no significant impact”. It would be entirely appropriate for the California Energy Commission to let the NRC know that it has a higher standard of evidence than the NRC Staff. p. 15, paragraph 5. Recommendations 14. PG&E and SCE should return their spent fuel pools to open racking arrangements as soon as possible and report to the Energy Commission on their progress in doing so. MFP COMMENT: The spent fuel pools at Diablo Canyon have been ‘re-racked’ to provide greater storage capacity, and MFP agrees with the Report’s statement that “The more densely configured spent fuel pools are considered to have greater risk than a spent fuel pool that has a more open racking arrangement.” (Report page 14) MFP also concurs with the Report’s finding that “a dry cask storage facility is considered to have a lower degree of overall risk than a spent fuel pool” and that “the use of dry cask storage at a nuclear power plant has the potential to reduce the overall risk associated with at-reactor storage of spent fuel, including the risk of seismic and terrorist events, since dry cask storage would allow the spent fuel pools to be returned to their original configuration and design loading.” (Report pages 14-15) The Report, however, does not consider the intention of the utility. Pacific Gas and Electricity (PG&E) does not intend to use the casks to return the pools to their original configurations. The pools at Diablo Canyon are reaching capacity, and PG&E’s interest in the dry casks is simply for the ‘overflow.’ PG&E intends to fill the casks as needed, not to increase safety at the plant. A State or Federal agency must require the offloading of fuel from the pools into dry casks in order to accomplish that goal. 15. The Energy Commission should continue to work with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to obtain the necessary security clearances for selected California officials to review studies that assess the vulnerability of California’s nuclear plants, spent fuel storage facilities, and spent fuel shipments to terrorist attacks or sabotage and the consequences of such attacks.

    MFP COMMENT: MFP strongly concurs with this recommendation. There are other issues not addressed in the Report regarding the dry casks:

    1. The selection of the cask. PG&E is not using the most current and safest Holtec cask design. Holtec Hi-Storm 100S system casks are currently being installed; the next generation of casks (100U) is much more robust.

    2. The longevity of the casks. Casks are only licensed for 20 years. How many times can they be relicensed? What happens when the casks begin to deteriorate?

    3. Placement of casks. In an attempt to reduce the terrorist threat and potential consequences, MFP promotes the scattering of the casks, earthern berms, or hardened containment. p. 15-16 Vulnerability of Roadways and Transmission Systems Diablo Canyon is served by a two-lane asphalt road and a separate emergency access road. MFP COMMENT: The Report is primarily concerned with seismic vulnerability, and nothing is said regarding its vulnerability to landslides. The recommendation that PG&E “should reassess the adequacy of access roads” (Report page 16) is not stated strongly enough. There must be a mandate. p. 16 Vulnerability to Plant Aging-Related Degradation The state’s nuclear plants are now approaching their fourth decade of operation. As they age, their systems, structures, and components are all subject to age‐related degradation, which, if unchecked, could lead to a loss of function and impaired safety.

    MFP COMMENTS: This report should include a recommendation that there be an analysis of degradation of plant components including a probabilistic risk assessment. Additionally, the incidence and frequency of overlooked or deferred maintenance needs to be assessed. p. 17 All units at Diablo Canyon and SONGS have achieved the highest level of the NRC’s maintenance‐related performance indicators since the second quarter of 2006, when a new performance‐tracking system was initiated. A key element of an effective maintenance program is the plant’s safety culture (a strong “safety‐first” dedication and accountability among plant workers).

    MFP COMMENTS: Long-term conclusions may not be drawn from a two year record. It should also be noted that Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant has had numerous violations of California regulations, and one resulted in a fine levied against PG&E of $193,715.00 by the Department of Toxic Substances Control (April 9, 2003). The resulting required six years of data preservation to monitor and prevent the recurrence of past problems extends until 2009. p. 18 Diablo Canyon … appears to have a relatively effective safety culture.

    MFP COMMENTS: On October 7 at a DCISC public meeting, PG&E’s Bill Guidemond, Site Services Director, indicated that the plant has established a Management Review Committee as part of their Corrective Action Program that has an average of 50 action requests daily. Because the committee meets four days a week (Monday through Thursday), they receive in the neighborhood of 200 issues weekly, thus, 800 issues monthly. These issues can include anything from leaks to procedural violations. The public has no access to the issues brought forth, the reviews of those issues, the decisions made, or the resolutions or lack thereof. In the same meetings it was brought up that employees who report safety concerns have encountered negative consequences. This situation does not produce an “effective safety culture,” nor can the “local community review major plant safety and performance issues” as indicated toward the end of that paragraph. p. 18 Recommendations 17. To support the long‐term reliability of Diablo Canyon and SONGS as the plants age, effective safety culture and maintenance programs must be maintained at the plants in conjunction with enhanced oversight mechanisms, including: The state should consider requiring an independent safety oversight committee at SONGS similar to the Diablo Canyon Independent Safety Committee.

    MFP COMMENT: Mothers for Peace strongly disagrees with this recommendation. No other nuclear plant in the nation has such a committee, and for good reason. It is a paper tiger. This Committee has absolutely no authority to make changes at Diablo Canyon, nor does it report findings to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Its function is stated thusly under “history” on the DCISC website: “…The Committee shall review Diablo Canyon operations for the purpose of assessing the safety of operations and suggesting any recommendations for safe operations. Neither the Committee nor its members shall have any responsibility or authority for plant operations, and they shall have no authority to direct PG&E personnel. The Committee shall conform in all respects to applicable federal laws, regulations and Nuclear Regulatory Commission (‘NRC’) policies.” The DCISC does have the potential to inform and to take input from the public, but its October 7 –8, 2008 meetings in Avila Beach demonstrated that it has no interest in serving even that purpose.

    After publishing a detailed agenda of topics to be discussed at each of the four meetings scheduled in two days, the DCISC – with no prior notice - compressed its schedule by including items scheduled for the evening meeting into the afternoon meeting. The evening meeting was then adjourned within minutes of its publicized starting time. Four members of MFP had prepared questions and comments on these agenda items and had scheduled themselves to rotate their attendance at the various meetings. Thus, MFP and other members of the public were denied the opportunity to witness the presentations, to ask questions and to give input on a multiplicity of topics. While it is true that MFP may submit comments via the DCISC website, that is a poor substitute for being in the same room with consultants and presenters. It also eliminates those topics from the televised coverage that is shown on public access TV and serves to further educate the public. During the recent DCISC meetings, a report was made by a representative of the Professional Engineers Union that the engineers who expressed concerns about safety were negatively affected in their job evaluations and pay increases. If the DCISC was doing its job, it would relay that comment to the NRC because, if true, it constitutes a violation of federal regulations. But DCISC does not make reports to the NRC. DCISC excels at producing paper to describe problems at the Diablo Canyon plant, but little preventative action is taken by the committee to make the plant safer for the public or the workers. A fire and explosion of a large transformer that occurred Aug. 17, 2008 provides a recent example. The DCISC role was to hear a report about the fire and about PG&E’s plans to determine the cause of the fire and to prevent a reoccurrence of the extensive damage from ceramic shards that penetrated windows and caused extensive damage to a nearby administrative building. PG&E was quite open about stating how very fortunate it was that the fire happened near midnight when few people were at the plant and no one was in that area. The transformer that burned was replaced by a reconditioned one and Unit Two went back on line within a couple of weeks, BEFORE some of the measures proposed by PG&E to protect plant personnel from the next transformer fire could be implemented. One proposed measure, the placement of barriers between and around transformers, will not be implemented until there is a regularly scheduled outage. Clearly, utility profits take priority over safety. Since transformer fires are regular events at Diablo Canyon (and elsewhere), not even PG&E pretends that future fires won’t occur. And yet, DCISC members and consultants did not ask a single question of why Unit Two was returned to service without better protection for workers. DCISC has a budget of millions per year. This expenditure does not contribute to public safety. Rather than create a parallel committee for SONGS, the CEC should recommend to the CPUC that it disband DCISC. p. 27 LAND USE AND ECONOMIC IMPLICATIONS OF ON-SITE WASTE STORAGE The experience of several communities where nuclear power plants have been shut down and decommissioned but a dry cask storage facility remains does not support this presumption. Indeed, local communities near the Rancho Seco plant outside of Sacramento, California, and the Maine Yankee nuclear power plant have successfully converted the land once used for the power plant and immediately around it into areas that provide recreational or economically‐productive mixed uses. The Connecticut Yankee nuclear plant site may also be developed soon. Accordingly, the presence of dry cask storage facilities at Diablo Canyon and SONGS after the plants are decommissioned should not prevent alternate uses from being established.

    MFP COMMENT: The above paragraph omits consideration of the Hosgri earthquake fault, approximately 2.5 miles from the site of the Diablo Canyon plant and its extensive waste storage facilities. This fault is classified by the United States Geological Survey as “major” and “active”. The conclusion that the Diablo Canyon site is comparable to the other sites given in this paragraph is not supportable. p.28 An analysis of property sales data and other economic indicators in areas where a dry cask storage facility is operating would provide a useful starting point to assess potential economic impacts of extended spent fuel storage at California’s nuclear plants.

    MFP COMMENTS: The sentence quoted above merits being re-worded as a RECOMMENDATION. It should be expanded to include an analysis of the impact of an event such as a significant earthquake. Both Tourism and Agriculture should be included in such an analysis, as much of the economy of the Central Coast relies on revenues from those sources. p. 30 Recommendation 24. A more detailed study of alternative power generation options is needed to quantify the reliability, economic, and environmental impacts of replacement power options. This is being done under the replacement power assessments, which are being initiated by the utilities under CPUC guidance.

    MFP COMMENTS: In order to avoid the taint of bias, this recommendation should include studies by experts independent of the utilities. License Renewal Issues for State Policymakers p.33 Recommendation 25. The Energy Commission, working with the CPUC as part of the CPUC’s authority to fund and oversee utilities’ plant relicensing feasibility studies, should develop a plan for reviewing the costs and benefits of nuclear plant license extensions, scope of evaluation, and the criteria for assessment. This review should include the adequacy of the plants’ maintenance programs and safety cultures; plans for waste storage, transport and disposal; seismic hazard assessments; the cradle‐to‐grave evaluation of the nuclear plants compared with alternative generating and transmission resources; contingency plans in the event the state’s nuclear power plants have prolonged outages; implications for grid reliability if these plants shut down; and the overall economic and environmental costs and benefits of license extension.

    MFP COMMENTS: Recommendation #25 has the endorsement of MFP. The NRC license renewal process is too narrowly focused; it must include all impacts – costs, environmental effects, security, emergency preparedness, waste storage, and alternative generating resources. An analysis is also needed of the costs and benefits of replacing once-through-cooling with alternative cooling methods to bring the plant in conformance with rules in the process of being promulgated by the State Water Board. The costs should include the cumulative damage to marine life while the benefits would include the environmental and financial benefit of increasing fish stocks.

    Additionally, MFP highly recommends that CEC take into account the findings of the Office of Inspector General of the NRC (OIG) in its AUDIT OF NRC’S LICENSE RENEWAL PROGRAM (OIG-07-A-15). This very thorough report may be accessed at http://adamswebsearch2.nrc.gov/idmws/doccontent.dll?library=PU_ADAMS^PBNTAD01&ID=072500038 In this report, the OIG specifies five areas where improvements are recommended. One fundamental need is summarized on page 7 (underlining added by MFP): “Improvements to the staff’s reporting efforts could provide necessary support for NRC’s license renewal decisions. Adequate documentation of review methodologies and support for staff conclusions in license renewal reports is important for supporting the sufficiency and rigor of NRC’s review process. However, the NRC staff does not consistently provide adequate descriptions of audit methodology or support for conclusions in license renewal reports. This is because [ Division of License Renewal] DLR has not fully established reportwriting standards and does not have a report quality assurance process to ensure adequate documentation. As a result, stakeholders and others who read the reports could conclude that regulatory decisions are not adequately reviewed and documented.”

    MFP urges the CEC to assess the progress being made within the NRC to implement all five of the improvements recommended in this report. MFP quotes OIG recommendation A, above, to call attention to the fundamental nature of the problem described. If the facts upon which license renewal decisions would be based are not reliable and verifiable, then the validity of any renewal license would also be in question. It is necessary that the State of California know the methodology of the NRC DLR as the CEC assesses the risks inherent in prolonging the operations of California’s two aging nuclear plants.