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High-ranking federal officials explain safety, next steps in Diablo Canyon relicensing

California's Last Nuclear Plant
Posted at 10:32 PM, May 03, 2023

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission hosted a public meeting on Wednesday night to hear concerns and explain the re-licensing process for the Diablo Canyon Power Plant.

Community members got to hear directly from high-ranking federal officials as PG&E moves forward with plans to keep Diablo Canyon running through 2030.

It was a packed room at the San Luis Obispo County Government Center.

Nuclear power and safety were the focus of the meeting which was organized by Congressman Salud Carbajal.

“This is a nuclear facility. With it comes great opportunity of renewable energy but with it also comes the peril of the nuclear material and the potential dangers to the community,” said the Democratic congressman.

PG&E plans to submit a license extension application by the end of 2023.

The NRC will allow Diablo Canyon’s twin reactors to continue running while the application is processed.
“Our efforts toward relicensing the plant are consistent with what the state has asked us to do with Senate Bill 846,” said PG&E Spokesperson Suzanne Hosn.

Representatives from the NRC say that Diablo Canyon operated safely for all of 2022.

The regulatory agency has two inspectors who are always at the power plant.

“They walk through the plant on a daily basis, they sit in on meetings with management. They have the ability to go anywhere and look at anything, anytime,” said Victor Dricks, Public Affairs Officer for the NRC.

But not everybody is satisfied with the latest safety report.

“We have no confidence that the NRC will do a thorough job of assessing safety requirements,” said SLO Mothers for Peace Spokesperson and President Jane Swanson.

Mothers for Peace is concerned that the NRC will have less than a year to look over the license renewal.

those applications are usually submitted years in advance.

There are also ongoing concerns about earthquakes.

“It’s an old dinosaur, it’s not sound and it’s not in a good place,” said Swanson. “So, we’re grateful to the workers for doing a good job. We are sure that they have done that but that does not mean that it is going to be safe going forward.”

Others say they welcome extending the life of Diablo Canyon for another five years.

“We are concerned about ensuring that California and our residents, our constituents, have enough affordable energy to run their homes and not have any brownouts or stuff like that occur,” said Sean Senn, a Cal Poly student who works for Santa Barbara County 4th District Supervisor Bob Nelson.

He adds that nuclear power is clean and reliable.

“We’d rather keep something that works rather than take our chances with importing more electricity from abroad and putting more strain on our current electrical infrastructure,” added Senn.

the current licenses for both reactors are set to expire in 2024 and 2025, but the extension is moving forward.