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Top nuclear regulatory official visits Diablo Canyon Power Plant

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Posted at 10:49 PM, Jun 01, 2023

Some high-ranking federal officials visited Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant on Thursday amid efforts to extend operations through 2030.

The Chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission toured Diablo Canyon to look at safety measures and talk with employees at all levels of the plant.

Chris Hansen was appointed chair of the NRC by President Biden in 2021.

He visited Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant for the first time on Thursday.

“This is one of the most beautiful sites for a nuclear power plant I think,” said Hansen. “I’ve been to sites around the world.”

Safety was top of mind as Hansen met with supervisors in the control room.

He also inspected emergency backup equipment and took a look at the area where spent nuclear fuel is stored.

“I make it a point to meet with union members while I’m here so that I get a ground-level view of operations at the plant and get as much information from different parts of the organization, “explained Hanson.

The visit comes as PG&E prepares to file a license extension application to keep Diablo Canyon running for another five years.

The NRC will allow the nuclear reactors to continue running as long as the application is submitted by the end of the year.

“We do not mix, nor do we want to, nuclear safety and politics,” said Hansen. “The technical decisions at the NRC are made by the career technical staff and that’s what happened in this case. It’s completely appropriate.”

The NRC took part in a public meeting in early May/

While they can’t share everything, Hanson hopes to be as transparent as possible.

“We also have to be able to make sure there’s enough information out there so that citizens and the public can scrutinize that information and understand the technical basis for our decisions,” said Hansen. “If they feel like they need to, they can challenge that.”

The NRC Chair says he is confident that Diablo Canyon will continue to operate safely, but the nuclear plant will eventually shut down.

The NRC says it is meeting with Northern Chumash tribal leaders to see what the future of this stretch of coastline could look like.

“My team from Texas had just met, on May third with the tribe, had an initial meeting. It was a very fruitful meeting for us, and we look forward to continuing that relationship,” said NRC Acting Regional Administrator Robert Lewis.

The RNC Chair hopes to see the area opened up for public use after decommissioning.

Environmental group “Friends of the Earth” has filed a federal lawsuit that aims to block PG&E from submitting a license renewal.