Letters to the Editor

State's energy needs can be met without relicensing Diablo

Diablo Canyon Power Plant
Diablo Canyon Power Plant Tribune file photo

License renewal for the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant cannot be justified. A better choice is to use a variety of safer and more economical sources of alternative energy. In November of 2009 Pacific Gas & Electric Co. filed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) an application to renew the operating licenses for both reactors at Diablo Canyon until 2044 and 2045.

The current operating licenses are in effect until 2024 and 2025. In March of 2015 PG&E submitted to the NRC its Environmental Report for Diablo Canyon License Renewal. Within that report is PG&E’s claim that electricity generated at Diablo cannot be replaced by renewable energy sources because the costs would be too high.

San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace has responded with two new contentions or legal arguments charging that PG&E skewed its analysis of energy alternatives to ignore or reject many energy options available to replace the power generated by Diablo Canyon. Contrary to PG&E’s claims, renewables are and will be plentiful, cheaper and safer than running the Diablo Canyon reactors for an additional 20 years. Mothers for Peace attorney Diane Curran points out that PG&E’s report fails to meet the requirements of federal law because it does not evaluate many of the energy alternatives that are or will be commercially viable by the time the current Diablo Canyon operating licenses for two reactors expire.

PG&E also fails to take into account the dramatic reduction in costs of renewable technologies in recent years. It ignores the deteriorating economics of the aging Diablo Canyon plant, which was designed in the 1960s and built and retrofitted during the 1970s and early 1980s. Significantly, PG&E’s report fails to fully acknowledge the additional expenses and dangers of storing 20 additional years’ worth of highly toxic radioactive wastes. According to PG&E, Diablo will have generated a total of 4,310 assemblies by the end of its current licenses in 2025. This is about nine times more than was projected when the plant was built. If Diablo should get re-licensed, as much as an additional 2,200 assemblies could conceivably accumulate. It is high time PG&E stop playing Russian roulette with our lives. We don’t need to put up with the risks of two aging reactors and additional tons of radioactive wastes surrounded by earthquake faults, since there are alternatives.

The safest thing to do is to shut down Diablo when its licenses expire - preferably much sooner. PG&E should add to its portfolio of sustainable energy sources and create jobs for its employees currently working at Diablo.