Thirty environmental, health and other organizations today announced their opposition to California state legislation that would mandate an analysis of purportedly negative – but not positive – impacts of shutting down the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. In a formal opposition letter, the groups say SB 968 could amount to “a state- ordered piece of advocacy for forces pushing for Diablo Canyon to operate far beyond its original design and license life. This could have great negative impacts on California. We recognize that this is not the intent of the author or co- authors, but nonetheless conclude there would be serious unintended consequences of the bill.”
“The proposed legislation is imbalanced,” says Linda Seeley, Spokesperson for San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (SLOMFP), the group that has fought Diablo for forty-three years. “It requires an analysis of the adverse impacts of shutdown, but not of a meltdown or other causes of radiation release, which could devastate the surrounding area. The bill doesn’t address the benefits of or aid in the transition to safe, clean renewable sources.”
“We have great respect for Senator Monning and the bill’s co-authors,” said SLOMFP Spokesperson Jane Swanson. “But we regretfully have concluded that the bill, although well-intentioned, could aid those forces pushing for Diablo to operate decades more, with all the risks that would entail.”
The opposition statement says that Diablo Canyon represents one of the greatest environmental, public health, and economic threats to much of California. Each of the two reactors contains 1000 times the long-lived radioactivity of the Hiroshima bomb. The plant was built based on the assumption that there were no active earthquake faults within 30 kilometers. We now know there are at least FOUR faults within that short distance, one of which is just a few hundred meters from the plant. The ground motion from an earthquake on any of those faults could be far greater than the plant was built to withstand. Just as at Fukushima, a quake larger than the plant was designed for could release massive radioactivity and devastate a significant part of our state.
The construction of the Diablo Canyon plant began in 1967. Diablo was designed and licensed to operate for 40 years only. Unit 1 was licensed in 1984 and Unit 2 in 1985. Some of the equipment is already over 40 years old. Nuclear proponents are pushing to extend operations for two more decades. The risks are just too great. The organizations say the state needs to quickly transition from Diablo to renewables, and Diablo must not be allowed to operate beyond its design life and original license period.
The group opposition letter to the Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities, and Communications is attached. Among the more than
thirty organizations are Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles, the Southern California Federation of Scientists, Food and Water Watch, Greenpeace, Public Citizen, the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, the Northern Chumash Tribal Council, and San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace.