Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) is going 3-D. That is because officials are delaying relicensing the Diablo Canyon Power Plant’s nuclear reactors in Avila Beach until the utility undertakes advanced 3-D seismic studies of the ocean’s floor and earthquake faults near its nuclear power plant.
PG&E has applied to the NRC to extend the power plant’s current operating licenses for an additional 20 years. One of Diablo’s reactor’s license expires in 2024 and the other in 2025.
San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors Chairman Adam Hill said “focusing solely on the seismic studies” is the most credible way for PG&E to move forward in its quest to extend the life of Diablo Canyon and show the public it is committed to safety at the plant. “It’s still about the message that you are sending to your people,” Hill said.
PG&E officials have said they want to restore the public’s trust in the company.
In a letter to the NRC, PG&E said it would be prudent to complete the studies prior to granting new licenses. The company said it wanted the NRC to hold off issuing new licenses, even if approved by the agency, until they finish the three-dimensional studies.
“We recognize that many in the public have called for this research to be completed before the NRC renews the plant’s licenses,” said John Conway, PG&E’s senior vice president of energy supply and chief nuclear officer.
“We are being responsive to this concern by seeking to expeditiously complete the 3-D seismic studies and provide those findings to the commission and other interested parties so they may have added assurance of the plant’s seismic integrity,” he added.
The county is willing to work with PG&E to expedite the permitting process for the seismic studies, Hill said.
“We want them to move forward,” he added.
NRC spokeswoman Lara Uselding said the agency will consider PG&E’s request to see what, if any, impact it would have on the agency’s review schedule.
In its letter, the utility company said it wanted to complete the research no later than December 2015, which would be long before the current licenses expire.