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California’s last nuclear plant to close after unanimous vote by regulators

As reported by David R. Baker in the San Francisco Chronicle.

San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (MPF) issued the following initial reaction to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) decision on the closure of Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant:

Initial reaction of San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (MFP) to the January 11, 2018 vote of the CPUC on the Joint Proposal to close the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant.

Contact:         Jane Swanson, Spokesperson, San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace

                        (805) 440-1359


San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (MFP) welcomes today’s unanimous decision on the closure of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant. MFP attorney Sabrina Venskus summarized the organization’s reaction.

"The Commission made a well-reasoned and fair decision in this case. We are pleased that the Commission acknowledged that earlier closure of Diablo may be warranted, and has built into its Final Decision the possibility of challenging the continued operation of Diablo well before the anticipated 2024/2025 shutdown."

The Decision keeps open the door for an earlier closure date in response to evidence submitted by Mothers for Peace and an allied organization, Women’s Energy Matters. Expert witnesses showed that replacement of Diablo’s electricity output by renewable sources might well be possible as soon as 2020. The Decision authorizes the Commission to reconsider PG&E's requested 2024/2025 retirement dates should "facts change in a manner that indicates Diablo Canyon should be retired earlier."   The Decision states that, "Because there is a possibility that Diablo Canyon may cease operations earlier than 2024 and 2025, PG&E should prepare for that contingency."

A more complete press release from MFP with links to relevant documents will follow later in the day. [See MFP's full press release, posted below as an Update.]

Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer at Fairewinds Energy Education, stated in response to the news:

Don’t pop the champagne yet.  It ain’t over till its over!  Remember construction started in the late 1960’s but the forty year NRC license started in 1985 when they finally went on line!  Pray that this 55 y/o [year old] reactor holds together for six more years!  I was retained by Mothers for Peace as part of these hearings.  My report is quite damning and is available at this link:     Bottom line:  PGE’s deferred maintenance is hideous, seismic issues are real, and the reactor vessel is seriously embrittled.  Best case is that it breaks and can’t be affordably restarted.  Worst case is a meltdown.  Pray for the next six years!

Friends of the Earth (FOE), was originally founded by David Brower in the 1960s to oppose the construction and operation of Diablo Canyon. FOE played a lead role in hammering out the Diablo Canyon shutdown agreement with Pacific Gas & Electric and other partners from labor and the environmental movement.

Damon Moglen, Senior Strategic Advisor at Friends of the Earth, issued the following statement:

The commission’s decision to support closing Diablo Canyon gives California a historic opportunity to create a blueprint for closing nuclear and fossil fuel plants across the country.

With the plans in motion to close the plant, the commission needs to begin the process of replacing Diablo Canyon with clean, renewable sources of energy. Further, the commission missed an opportunity to ensure that the plant’s workers and local community would receive the support they need to make this transition successful.

While state leaders talk about taking action on climate change, today’s decision by the commission fell short of putting those values into action. We will continue to work to assure that Diablo Canyon is replaced by greenhouse gas-free renewable energy, and that we treat the workers and local communities with the respect that such a historic decision demands. [See the full FOE press release here.]

Beyond Nuclear, alongside Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), will co-present on radioactive waste issues at a MFP educational event in San Luis Obispo, CA on Jan. 19, 2018.