Hearings set this month on Diablo Canyon license renewal

The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold two public meetings before the end of the month in San Luis Obispo to discuss issues central to plans to renew the two operating licenses at Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

The first meeting will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Embassy Suites in San Luis Obispo. Plant owner PG&E will discuss a new study on the threat posed by several earthquake faults near the plant.

The purpose of the study was to estimate the maximum strength of an earthquake along the newly discovered Shoreline Fault. The study also looked at other faults in the area, including the Hosgri.

“The Hosgri Fault is still the greatest feature in the area, but the study found that it is less of a danger than originally thought,” said Kory Raftery, a PG&E spokesman.

Original estimates had put the maximum quake along the Hosgri Fault at a magnitude 6.5. The new study lowers the maximum quake potential closer to a magnitude 6, Raftery said. The plant was designed to withstand a 7.5-magnitude earthquake.

NRC officials say the seismic report will be available on CD at the meeting and should be posted on the NRC website before the meeting.

The second meeting will start at 7 p.m. Jan. 27 at Courtyard by Marriott, 1605 Calle Joaquin in San Luis Obispo. The NRC will discuss the results of a recent license renewal inspection that looked at the ability of PG&E to manage the aging of the plant’s components during the 20-year extension of its life.

The agency has done a safety evaluation of the plant that also looked at the question of aging component management. That report still has questions that need to be answered by PG&E by Feb. 9 before it is complete.

Copies of the renewal inspection and safety report are available on the NRC website. An NRC official familiar with the safety report will be available at the Jan. 27 meeting to answer questions.

The current operating licenses at Diablo Canyon expire in 2024 and 2025. In November 2009, PG&E applied to extend the licenses by 20 years each.