Federal regulators will get input on Diablo Canyon license renewal

The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold another set of two public meetings Wednesday in San Luis Obispo on license renewal for Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

The purpose of the meetings is to take public testimony about the environmental issues the agency should consider when processing the renewal application. A panel of NRC officials will be on hand to hear the testimony.

The format of Wednesday’s meetings will be similar to that used in two previous general information meetings in early February, with one crucial difference, said Andrew Stuyvenberg, NRC manager for environmental review.

“The NRC staff will be in a receiving mode,” he said. “This will not be a question-and-answer-type session.”

People with questions about license renewal should attend open-house sessions to be held an hour before each meeting where NRC staff will be available to talk informally and answer questions, he said.

During the public meeting portions, each member of the public will have three to four minutes to comment on the record.

The environmental issues in question include the effect of the plant’s continued operation on natural resources and land use.

A court recorder will transcribe the public testimony, and the NRC will respond to each comment in a summary report that will be published later. The meetings will also be videotaped and made available for community-access broadcasting.

The meetings will be held at the Embassy Suites Hotel, 333 Madonna Road, San Luis Obispo. The first session will run from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. and will be followed by a second session from 7 to 10 p.m.

In November, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. applied to renew Diablo Canyon’s two reactor operating licenses for an additional 20 years each. The current licenses expire in 2024 and 2025.

The process is expected to cost PG&E ratepayers $85 million and will take at least two years to complete. The NRC will determine whether the plant can safely operate for 20 additional years.

“Public input is a cornerstone of the environmental review process,” Stuyvenberg said. Issues such as security and seismic safety are the subject of ongoing update and review by the agency, he said.