Diablo Canyon Engagement Panel: Don’t shut us down

File photo of a humpback whale breaching off the shore of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.
File photo of a humpback whale breaching off the shore of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. Courtesy Photo

On Jan. 24, The Tribune published a local Viewpoint from one of the members of the Diablo Canyon Decommissioning Engagement Panel (DCDEP), Alex Karlin, urging the California Public Utilities Commission to take action to replace the current panel.

Mr. Karlin proposes appointing an independent community advisory panel to monitor and provide oversight, and also to communicate community concerns regarding the projected decommissioning of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

Mr. Karlin’s Viewpoint is concerning because neither the panel nor the community has had the opportunity to conduct an in-depth evaluation of his recommendation or several other possible alternatives.

Therefore, the undersigned members of the panel wish to communicate the following points, reflecting the thinking of most of the public members of the DCDEP:

  • Relevant to Mr. Karlin’s proposal, please consider the work that has been accomplished during 2018 by the current panel, as evidenced by the year-end Strategic Vision Document released on Jan. 8 ( Since its formation in May 2018, the panel has conducted seven public meetings and hosted four full-day workshops resulting in recommendations on the decommissioning process; funding; use of 12,000 acres of surrounding lands; and reuse of Diablo Canyon facilities after decommissioning. Upcoming topics for 2019 include spent fuel management, economic impacts of decommissioning, transportation-related impacts and the future structure and role of the panel.
  • The DCDEP is well aware of Mr. Karlin’s recommendations and already had scheduled a panel meeting on June 12 to consider his proposal in the context of a larger discussion about strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for improvement in the chartered mission of the DCDEP to serve as a communication link between the local communities of San Luis Obispo County and PG&E, with regard to the anticipated decommissioning. We thought that it was an appropriate time to step back and engage the community in a conversation on our effectiveness following one full year of operation.
  • As part of the evaluation process, the panel anticipates holding public workshops in May (dates and locations to be determined) to receive input from experts on appropriate community panel structures and functions and also to hear from interested members of local communities. The purpose of the workshops will be to help panel members and the community understand the issues and make well-thought-out recommendations to PG&E and to the CPUC regarding the ongoing structure and function of the DCDEP or its successor entity that truly serves our unique situation.

The panel wishes to extend an invitation to the CPUC, to the County Board of Supervisors, Cities and interested members of the local community to participate actively in these workshops and in the June 12 public meeting.

Most importantly, we ask that no actions be taken with regard to Mr. Karlin’s recommendations until our community has had the opportunity to openly discuss these issues at the May workshops and June public meeting and the subsequent issuance of the panel’s recommendations on this important topic.

Finally, the panel wishes to communicate that its primary focus for the first quarter of 2019 is a consideration of spent fuel storage at the Diablo Canyon Power Plant. This is an important issue, highly deserving of community attention. We invite your participation at these scheduled events:

  • Feb. 22 and 23: Workshops (public invited) that includes presentations from PG&E, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Department of Energy, California Energy Commission and at least three competing vendors of storage casks, discussion of the strategies for handling spent fuel and related issues.

  • March 13: Public DCDEP meeting recapping findings from the workshops, additional public testimony and developing panel recommendations regarding spent fuel storage to PG&E and to the CPUC.

The panel wishes to thank community members for their active participation in the work of the of the DCDEP this past year. The community’s interest has been demonstrated by the nearly 1,000 discrete communications from the public received thus far. We hope your participation will continue in 2019 as we address more issues critically important to the anticipated decommissioning of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

Submitted by Diablo Canyon Decommissioning Engagement Panel members David Baldwin, Dena Bellman, Lauren Brown, Sheri Danoff, Scott Lathrop, Frank Mecham, Nancy O’Malley, Linda Seeley and Kara Woodruff.

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