2003 November Newsletter

Mothers for Peace and the Santa Lucia Chapter of the Sierra Club files a federal appeal in the 9th Circuit regarding PG&E's proposal to built a new facility for high level radioactive waste.

Federal Appeal to be filed on December 14, 2003

The San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (MFP) asserts that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) erred when it approved Pacific Gas & Electric's (PG&E) proposal to construct and operate a new facility for high level radioactive waste at the site of Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant. MFP claims that the NRC was required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to publish an Environmental Impact Statement (EIR) addressing:

* the environmental impacts of terrorists attack or other acts of malice or insanity against the facility, and

* alternatives for mitigating or avoiding the facility. Furthermore, the NRC refused to hold hearings on the issues brought forward by MFP and other intervenors.

On December 14, 2003, MFP and the Santa Lucia Chapter of the Sierra Club will file a federal appeal in the 9th Circuit. This appeal will be the first in the nation to challenge the NRC’s refusal to provide environmental accountability under NEPA and its refusal to hold hearings. This legal case has the potential to effect safety at all of the nation’s nuclear reactors. This precedent-setting appeal has the support of numerous environmental organizations – both within and outside California - and elected officials.

Legal fees and court costs are estimated at $100,000. We need to raise the $50,000 retainer by mid-December, and we need your help County of San Luis Obispo Comments have been filed on the County Planning Department’s draft Environmental Impact Report regarding PG&E’s proposed nuclear waste facility. A decision by the Planning Commission is due early next year. Nuclear Regulatory Commission proceedings on license renewals for reactor operations are being held twenty years in advance of current license termination!

On July 15, 2003, the NRC held a public hearing on environmental impacts of renewing nuclear power plant licenses for an additional 20 years. MFP attended and provided comments. Letters of opposition to premature license renewal were collected on the MFP website and sent to the NRC in early September. PG&E has stated under oath that the company would NOT commit to delaying a license renewal application before 2005. It has also stated it is in the process of feasibility studies for a license renewal which would result in additional radioactive waste production for decades. This waste could be stored on an earthquake-prone coastal zone for a century, if not forever.

MFP requested a Resolution from the San Luis Obispo Board of Supervisors advising that a license renewal be denied until numerous safety issues have been resolved. With the support of the community (and many children), the resolution passed 3-2. California Public Utilities Commission MFP has filed a Petition with the Commission to reorganize the Diablo Canyon Independent Safety Committee. It has asked that:

* PG&E be removed from the nomination process;

* a qualified public member of our community be added to the Committee,

* the office currently located in Monterey be relocated to San Luis Obispo,

* the Safety Committee’s meeting be video recorded for additional public outreach.

Resolution of this issue is expected early in 2004. Cross-examination by the MFP and other consumer resulted in the removal of preparation costs for aging components in the PG&E General Rate Case. PG&E is expected to file for recovery of these costs, but for the first time in nuclear generation history, a cost-benefit analysis of replacement of aging components versus phasing out nuclear power is expected to be conducted.