Diablo Canyon relicensing hearing set for San Luis Obispo

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has scheduled a hearing for May 26 in San Luis Obispo to hear legal arguments about the relicensing of Diablo Canyon Power Plant’s two reactors.

The hearing will begin at 8:30 a.m. in the county Board of Supervisors chambers, 1055 Monterey St. in San Luis Obispo.

The public is invited to observe the proceedings but cannot participate. All members of the public must undergo security screenings, a standard precaution for such proceedings.

The hearing will be held by an Atomic Safety and Licensing Board appointed by the commission. It will hear arguments about five legal challenges of the license renewal application by the anti-nuclear group San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace.

Four of the five challenges, called contentions, deal with the threat earthquakes pose to the safety of the plant. The fifth deals with the ability of plant operators to deal with aging components.

During the hearing, lawyers for Mothers for Peace and plant owners Pacific Gas and Electric Co. will argue the contentions, and the board will ask questions. Both sides have already filed extensive legal briefs with the board.

The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board is described as an independent quasi-judicial arm of the NRC that decides legal challenges to applications and proposed licensing actions by the NRC.

Mothers for Peace activists say they doubt they will be able to prevent relicensing but hope the NRC will require that PG&E take additional safety precautions. The utility applied for license renewal in November, and the process is expected to take several years to complete.

Diablo Canyon’s current licenses expire in 2024 and 2025. If renewal is approved, the life of the plant will be extended by 20 years.