Federal regulators rejected a last-ditch effort by a pair of environmental activist groups to block the continued operation of California’s last-remaining nuclear power plant.
A petition filed by Friends of the Earth and Mothers for Peace sought to immediately shutter one of two reactors at Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant in San Luis Obispo County.
Driving the news: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission rejected the request to shut down the Unit 1 reactor and asked agency staff to review it instead.
- The NRC also declined a request to convene a hearing regarding a 2003 decision to extend the testing schedule for the Unit 1 pressure vessel until 2025.
- The environmental groups claimed that the last vessel inspections occurred between 2003 and 2005, and the utility had postponed further testing based on results from similar reactors.
- The NRC determined that there was no justification for a hearing, prompting the groups to express concern over the lack of regard for the safety and security of those living near the plant.
The other side: Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), the operator of the Diablo Canyon plant, maintained that the facility was in “full compliance” with industry guidance and regulatory standards for safety monitoring.
- This latest development in the ongoing debate over the plant’s operation and safety follows a state judge’s dismissal of a lawsuit by Friends of the Earth to prevent PG&E from extending the plant’s operating life.
- PG&E initially agreed in 2016 to shut down the plant by 2025 but later changed course, seeking to extend the operating run of the twin reactors.
- Governor Gavin Newsom, who previously advocated for closing the plant, now supports keeping Diablo Canyon operational beyond 2025 to prevent blackouts during California’s transition to renewable energy sources.