For the second time in as many weeks, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has canceled a public meeting scheduled for San Luis Obispo as a result of the federal budget shutdown.
The agency had been scheduled to hold a meeting Oct. 16 to discuss a periodic performance assessment for Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. Cancellation of the meeting was announced Tuesday.
A meeting Oct. 7 to discuss plans for long-term storage of high-level nuclear waste was also canceled because of the shutdown, which began Oct. 1.
No new date for either meeting has been set.
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After the shutdown began, the agency was able to continue to operate using unexpended funds from previous budgets. However, those are expected to run out Thursday.
Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, cited the meeting cancellation as a reason to end the shutdown. Such meetings are important ways for the public to get information about the plant’s operation, she said.
“This announcement is the latest local impact of a needless government shutdown, and exactly the type of thing we could end if the House leadership would allow us to vote on a bill to reopen the government,” she said.
The agency plans to furlough non-essential employees this week. Essential employees, such as resident inspectors, will continue to work, according to the NRC website.
As a result, some NRC offices will have skeleton staffs, wrote Mark Satorius, the agency’s executive director for operations, on an NRC blog.
“It is illegal for employees who are furloughed to perform agency work,” Satorius wrote. “So once the NRC begins furloughs, most employees will not be coming to the office, taking work phone calls, or reading or responding to email messages.”