California Gov. Jerry Brown this week signed into law a bill that will continue operation of two key Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant safety oversight bodies until the plant’s two operating licenses expire in 2025.
Assembly Bill 361 by Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, R-San Luis Obispo, authorizes the San Luis Obispo County Office of Emergency Services to spend up to $1.73 million a year to coordinate emergency planning and preparation in the event of a radiation release from the plant. Without the new law, that funding would have expired in 2019.
It also authorizes the continued operation of a state panel of seismic hazard specialists, called the Independent Peer Review Panel, which oversees Pacific Gas & Electric Co.’s studies of the earthquake hazard facing Diablo Canyon. Without the extension, the panel would have disbanded in November.
The bill received unanimous bipartisan support in the state Legislature and takes effect immediately.
“It is imperative that we ensure that our local governments have the necessary funding tools to continue their emergency response planning for any disaster that could occur at Diablo Canyon,” Achadjian said. “AB 361 is also a responsible step to ensure that an independent peer review panel will continue to review seismic testing results at the power plant.”
Diablo Canyon owner PG&E supported the bill, which was co-sponsored by state Sens. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, and Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara.
Monning said passage of the bill was vital to ensure the maintenance of the state’s nuclear emergency programs, which have been a model program established to safeguard public health and safety.
“I am proud to have worked with Assemblymember Achadjian to ensure the region the needed seismic safety research about the power plant and the funding of emergency planning programs to help protect local communities,” he said.
The Independent Peer Review Panel has county Supervisor Bruce Gibson as one of its members. It was founded by the state Public Utilities Commission in 2010.
Achadjian said the continued work of the panel is vital because it has not completed its review of seismic safety surveys conducted by PG&E. Its services will also be important if PG&E decides to renew Diablo Canyon’s two operating licenses.
PG&E started the license renewal process with the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission but put the application on hold while it continues its seismic safety review.
Located on the seismically active Central Coast, Diablo Canyon’s main safety threat is a powerful earthquake. PG&E maintains a team of seismologists to assess the seismic threat.