PG&E Proposes Generation of More Highly Radioactive Spent Fuel at Diablo Canyon Without a Storage Plan.
On March 13, 2023, Mothers for Peace filed its most recent legal challenge as it continues to oppose PG&E’s haphazard attempt to keep Diablo Canyon nuclear plant running past the 2024 and 2025 expiration dates for the two reactors’ licenses.
Mothers for Peace petitioned the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a hearing regarding PG&E’s application to renew the license for its spent fuel storage facility. They charged that PG&E has failed to disclose its plans for storing the tons of additional spent fuel that will be generated if the NRC allows PG&E to continue to operate the reactors for another twenty years as permitted by federal law.
Jane Swanson, spokesperson for MFP, commented that the Diablo Canyon reactors are now poised to generate double the amount of spent fuel they were originally licensed to create. “This is a significant amount of highly radioactive material, which the U.S. government has been unable to dispose of for decades,” she said.
While S.B. 846, passed by the California Legislature in 2022, would allow Diablo Canyon to operate for only five years past its reactor license termination dates, the Legislature has not reached a firm conclusion on that time period.
It should also be noted that PG&E is entitled to apply to the NRC for a full 20-year renewal term; the company has not ruled this out.
Diane Curran, attorney for MFP, stated that “PG&E must comply with federal safety and environmental laws requiring it to explain how the spent fuel storage facility will be re-designed to accommodate a significant additional quantity of spent fuel.” Curran also said that PG&E must address “how its plan to generate more highly radioactive spent fuel at Diablo squares with State policies that seek to minimize the dangers and financial costs of storing spent fuel at Diablo Canyon.”
In the petition, the group demands that the NRC must require PG&E to discuss how the renewal of the ISFSI license would affect the State’s developing policy to encourage the expedited transfer of spent fuel from the pools to the ISFSI to ensure the safe storage of this dangerous material.
Linda Seeley, MFP spokesperson, expressed the group’s frustration that Gov. Newsom and the Legislature had not taken existing State policies into account before allowing continued operation of Diablo Canyon under State law.
“We are dismayed by the cavalier approach taken by PG&E, the California Legislature, and Governor Newsom to the existential question of whether more dangerous spent fuel should be piled onto this earthquake-prone site,” Seeley said. She charged that “the passage of State law allowing PG&E to generate more spent fuel at Diablo Canyon, without first reckoning with the State’s own safety and environmental protection policies, borders on political malpractice.”
Click here to read the petition.