Linda Seeley, spokesperson for Mothers for Peace, traveled to San Francisco to provide testimony.
Read our message here:
In this proceeding, San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace has demonstrated that the continued operation of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant until 2030 is completely unjustified. Indeed, it increases blackout risks and discourages deployment of renewable energy in California. Our expert energy witness, Rao Konidena, former Midcontinent ISO Principal Advisor, has demonstrated this fact well.
Mr. Konidena shows that California has more than enough power for grid reliability without the 2,200 MW of Diablo – even, and especially, during extreme heat events. He has also demonstrated that because Diablo is baseload power and must operate 24/7, it curtails both the dispatch of more flexible resources like renewable energy and those resources’ market production, notwithstanding procurement orders. It thereby increases the danger of blackouts and the cost to California customers and taxpayers.
We now have more than 8,500 MW of energy storage capacity (with more being added each year), plus up to 5,000 MW of demand response, which is more than sufficient to ensure grid reliability.
Even if we focus only on “have already been constructed and interconnected” by the end of 2023, as does the ALJ’s proposed decision, the evidence shows that California has at least 1,022 MW of excess capacity by the end of 2023. We don’t need Diablo as of the end of this year.
California continues to add renewables every year and is projected to have at least 6,000 MW more by 2026, three times the capacity of Diablo.
We are gravely concerned about recent events relating to the condition of the Unit 1 reactor pressure vessel. A reactor pressure vessel must be periodically tested for embrittlement of the welds, a condition that increases over time in aging reactors. If a reactor goes into emergency shutdown because of any number of circumstances, an embrittled pressure vessel can shatter like glass.
Conservative estimates put the cost of replacing or repairing the reactor vessel at between $250 and $500 million, not to mention the trillions in losses if there were a major release of radiation from a shattered pressure vessel.
For the past 20 years, PG&E has disregarded evidence that the Unit 1 pressure vessel is undergoing embrittlement that already could have reached a dangerous level. With NRC’s repeated turning of a blind eye, PG&E has also failed to do any follow-up inspections since the early 2000s, including removal and testing of samples from inside the pressure vessel and beltline weld inspections. Together with Friends of the Earth we petitioned the NRC Commissioners to address this serious matter.
Our petition was supported by a detailed technical analysis on Unit 1 by Dr. Digby Macdonald, a world renowned expert on this topic and professor at the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Macdonald recommended that the Unit 1 reactor vessel should be inspected immediately and that it should not be allowed to operate again until its embrittlement condition has been evaluated.
The status of Unit 1 should be a matter of grave concern to the CPUC and all Californians because:
Instead of inspecting the Unit 1 pressure vessel in the current refueling outage by removing and testing “Capsule B,” as requested by the NRC Staff, Senator John Laird, and Assemblywoman Dawn Addis, and as demanded by San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace and FoE, PG&E has declared that it cannot be done until 2025.
But this is just one more in a series of multiple excuses given by PG&E and accepted by a lenient NRC over the last 15 years. PG&E has been postponing this testing since 2007 when it was first scheduled.
And PG&E has known since 2010 that the reactor core barrel posed an impediment to the removal of Capsule B.
In 2010, PG&E promised to resolve the problem and remove Capsule B in 2012, only to request another extension until 2022.
And PG&E completely skipped removing Capsule B in 2022 because it thought DCPP would be closing in two years.
Now PG&E is kicking the can down the road again to a time that conveniently falls after the State’s self-imposed deadline for deciding whether to continue operating Diablo Canyon.
Finally, while the Legislature and the CPUC have been relying on the NRC to ensure the safe operation of Diablo Canyon past the reactors’ 2024/2025 license expiration dates, the NRC itself appears to be bending to the State requests – rather than protecting the public. In a recent brief to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, the NRC stated that “both PG&E and the NRC have been responding to changing circumstances of significant public interest beyond their respective controls.”
The circumstances beyond their controls can only be one thing – the passage of S.B. 846. It is extremely unwise for the State to look to the NRC to guard its citizens against the dangers of continuing to operate Diablo Canyon past 2024/2025. That responsibility has devolved to the State.
In other words, the CPUC has now unwittingly taken on the de facto responsibility of doing the NRC’s job. An immense task.
San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace urges you to think very carefully about the facts – the continued operation of Diablo Canyon cannot be a political decision: it must be 100% based on 2 things: first and foremost, the health and safety of all Californians; and secondly, whether or not Diablo’s power is needed on the grid. Diablo Canyon is built in an active earthquake zone with seismic studies that have not been updated since 2015. Our seismic expert witness, Dr. Peter Bird of UCLA, has outlined in his testimony that the faults running directly under the plant are very likely vertical thrust faults. Put it together: no inspection of the Unit 1 pressure vessel since 2002; active earthquake faults under the plant – couple those conditions with the fact that we don’t even need the power from Diablo Canyon, and you can easily reach a decision that your grandchildren will thank you for.