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Wednesday, February 20 , 2019, 3:58 am | Fair 41º


PG&E Suspends License Renewal for Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant

The company requests the delay to allow for the completion of seismic studies at the Central Coast facility

Government officials have urged the company behind a Central Coast nuclear power facility to halt renewing its license until more seismic studies can be done on fault lines in the area. 

When the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan were compromised from a tsunami and corresponding earthquake last month, concern was raised among residents on the Central Coast and beyond about the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant in Avila Beach.

The company that operates the plant, Pacific Gas and Electic Co., issued a statement Monday that said it intends to expedite completion of the seismic studies and that it had asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to delay final action on the license.

John Conway, PG&E’s chief nuclear officer, said there had been concerns among customers and government officials since the incident in Japan.

“Because we live in a seismically active region, PG&E takes care in all its operations, especially at Diablo Canyon, to analyze and address seismic risks,” he said. “In the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake and the resulting tsunami, we are working even more closely with various governmental permitting agencies to accelerate the plant’s advanced seismic research.”

A number of faults exist near the plant, including the Shoreline Fault, which was discovered in 2008. The company maintains that the plant has an adequate safety margin to withstand any seismic activity that might occur from faults in the region, including the Shoreline Fault.

According to its statement, the company will undertake offshore 3-D studies of the Shoreline Fault’s deeper regions as soon as it obtains necessary permits from various regulatory agencies, including the State Lands Commission, the California Coastal Commission and San Luis Obispo County.

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to send a letter to PG&E urging the company to delay relicensing until seismic studies had been completed and independently reviewed.

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, said she was pleased that the company had agreed to suspend licensing, but said that a number of seismic issues still need to be addressed.

“There is simply no need to rush through relicensing until we have all the information we need to ensure Diablo Canyon can be run safely and that the plant is prepared to deal with the inevitable seismic activity the area is known for,” Capps said in a statement issued Monday. “The people of the Central Coast deserve to know that everything is being done to ensure their health and safety.”

Capps testified Tuesday before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and renewed her call to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to stay the relicensing process. State Sen. Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo, also testified before the committee, offering his perspective as a state elected official and scientist with a Ph.D. in seismic studies.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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