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Jun 30, 2010 1:15 AM by KSBY News

Diablo Canyon saftey discussed at town hall meeting

The focus of a public meeting hosted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Tuesday night was supposed to be the safety at the Diablo Canyon Power Plant in 2009, but that didn't stop some concerned residents from bringing up last week's alert at the plant.

A town hall meeting was held to address the end of cycle review for Diablo. It looks at the safety and security of the plant last year. But with Diablo requesting the NRC extend the plant's licenses another 20 years and an alert last week, it has some locals even more interested in what's happening inside the PG&E gates.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says Diablo's 2009 performance was among the best in the industry. Kory Raftery, PG&E spokesperson, said, "Overall the NRC has told us that we do a very good job operating the plant safely, especially we keep public health and safety in the forefront. But there's always areas for improvement and we're working to correct those areas."

There was one area in particular that the NRC identified that needed improvement. Victor Dricks, Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman, said, "There's a weakness or what we call a theme, a problem in the area of problem identification and resolution."

Jane Swanson, San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, said, "This is rather serious. A nuclear power plant is rather complicated and the potential results of failure to manage that aging plant correctly could be catastrophic."

Some point to last Wednesday's incident. Diablo issued an alert after carbon dioxide was released during a planned test. It reached a level that would have proven harmful to operators had they been in the area. Swanson said, "This alert last week was just the latest in a series of events that have been going on especially since 2008."

Joe Boysen , Shell Beach resident, said, "Why do we have to wait for horrible things to happen, like what's going on in the Gulf Coast right no. Why are we waiting for that."

KSBY News asked the NRC if last week's incident could affect Diablo's 2010 safety assessment. We were told it shouldn't because the event really didn't have an impact on public health or safety. The NRC would not address any questions from the public about last week's alert. They say the incident was not on the agenda.

PG&E said the feedback they have received from the NRC has been mainly positive. "Overall the NRC has told us that we do a very good job operating the plant safely," said Kory Raftery, spokesperson for PG&E. "We keep public health and safety on the forefront, but there's always areas for improvement and we're looking to correct those areas."

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