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May 26, 2010 9:41 PM by Monica Quintero

Atomic Safety and Licensing Board hears Diablo debate

Should Diablo Canyon get its license renewed? That debate heated up once again on Wednesday. The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board was in San Luis Obispo to hear pros and cons from San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff and PG&E. The operating licenses for two nuclear reactors at Diablo Canyon expire in 2024 and 2025. The controversy is that PG&E wants to extend the life of the nuclear power plant by an additional 20 years.

Before the three-member Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, Mothers for Peace discussed what they said are serious safety and environmental concerns. Diane Curran, a Mothers for Peace attorney, said, "We're concerned primarily about the spent fuel pools at Diablo Canyon. The group argued PG&E has failed to meet five requirements. They claim PG&E failed to address the airborne environmental impacts of an accident, including one caused by an earthquake. The group also said the power company failed to demonstrate its ability to safely manage the aging plant, failed to evaluate the environmental impacts of an attack, and that PG&E's application lacks information on the seismic risks. Mothers for Peace also said PG&E lacks the cost-effectiveness of measures to mitigate the environmental impacts of an attack. Kory Raftery, a PG&E spokesperson said, "I can just give you a snapshot of time and that snapshot is today and today is just one part of the license renewal process." Victor Dricks, an NRC spokesperson, said, "The judges will make some decision probably by July on which if any of these five contentions they will admit or determine have merit, and those will become the subject of a public hearing."

A public hearing is what could be next in this long process. As for when the NRC will make a decision on that license renewal that's going to take some time. The spokesperson for the NRC said at the earliest it would be two years from now.

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