San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace has joined 25 other groups in petitioning the federal government to stop license renewal of nuclear plants until regulators address a range of health and safety concerns brought to light by the March 11 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.
Mothers for Peace has filed several challenges with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission questioning the adequacy of the agency’s environmental review of the Diablo Canyon plant and asking the agency to implement the safety recommendations of an NRC task force that looked at lessons learned from the nuclear meltdown in Japan before license renewal of the plant can proceed.
“The contention filed by the San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace attorney Diane Curran asserts that the NRC is obligated by federal law to adopt this and other recommendations of its task force in order to fulfill its function of providing adequate public safety,” said Jane Swanson, Mothers for Peace spokeswoman.
The filings appear to fall under the “late-filed contention” category, which means the agency will have to determine if they are admissible, said Scott Burnell, NRC spokesman. There is no deadline for an expected decision, he said.
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The task force consisted of experts within the NRC who examined the events following the 9.0-magnitude quake in Japan and subsequent tsunamis. The waves inundated the plant, causing station-wide blackouts, crippling three reactors and causing releases of radiation.
After a 90-day review, the task force came up with 12 recommendations of broad steps the NRC needs to take to protect nuclear plants from a similar severe emergency. Any new requirements will apply to all of the nation’s 104 operating reactors, not just those undergoing license renewals, Burnell said.
“The task force also explicitly stated that current operating plants and licensing activities do not pose an imminent risk to public health and safety,” he said.
PG&E has applied to extend the operating life of Diablo Canyon’s two reactors to 2044 and 2045. The operating licenses now held by PG&E expire in 2024 and 2025.