Diablo Canyon safety record to get public airing in San Luis Obispo County

For the past two years, operators at Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant have had trouble identifying and resolving low-level safety problems.

That is one of the key findings that will be discussed at a town hall-style meeting of the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission on June 29 in San Luis Obispo.

The public will have two opportunities that day to learn about and comment on the agency’s assessment of the plant’s safety performance in 2009.

The first meeting will be an open house from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is an opportunity for the public to speak with NRC experts about a range of issues. Seismic concerns, security and license renewal are topics that have dominated recent NRC hearings.

The second meeting is scheduled for 6 to 10 p.m. and will include a formal presentation by NRC officials, followed by an opportunity for the public to make comments and ask questions regarding the safety of the plant.

Both meetings will be held at the Embassy Suites Hotel, 333 Madonna Road.

Overall, the plant operated safely in 2009, the agency concluded.

However, the agency has found a persistent problem of failing to identify and correct various potential safety problems. For example, a defective latch on a fire door was not identified and corrected.

The problem — which the agency calls a “substantive cross-cutting issue” — was first noticed in 2008 and persisted through 2009. Plant owner Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has implemented a number of changes to correct the problem, but they don’t appear to be working yet, NRC officials say.

“It is not apparent that you have fully evaluated the depth and breadth of the issue to ensure the effectiveness of your corrective actions,” the agency wrote in its report to PG&E.

Safety report

To read the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s latest report on Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant’s safety performance, go to http://sn.im/diabloreport