As expected, FOE files legal action over Diablo Canyon nuclear plant

As it has been threatening for some time, the Friends of the Earth has asked a federal appeals court to overturn a “secret decision” by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to alter the operating license for the Pacific Gas & Electric (PGE) (NYSE:PCG) Diablo Canyon nuclear plant and hide the station’s true earthquake risk.

The petition for review was filed Oct. 28 with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. FOE has been talking about the issue for weeks. The company has denied problems with process or safety at the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in California.

The motion was filed by Friends of the Earth attorney Richard Ayres. The environmental organization has said it was operations suspended at the nuclear plant.

Friends of the Earth cited a dissent by the plant’s former resident inspector, Michael Peck. Peck defied his superiors in saying that Diablo Canyon was operating in violation of its license and should be shut down unless and until new seismic information was addressed, FOE said in an Oct. 28 posting on its website.

“At Diablo, it is now clear that these outdated 1960s-era reactors are not built to withstand the earthquake risks that surround the plant,” said Damon Moglen of Friends of the Earth.  “But instead of making them address these safety issues, the NRC worked with PG&E to change the rules. It’s a scandal of the first order, and frankly very scary.”

“We’ve seen the complaint, but no we don’t as a matter of course comment on lawsuits in the media,” said an NRC spokesperson.

A PG&E report released last month revealed that a newly discovered fault, located just 650 yards from the plant, is twice as long as the utility had maintained since 2011. The report also acknowledged one of Peck’s major concerns; that the new fault is connected to two others and together the three are capable of producing much stronger shaking than the plant was designed and licensed to withstand, FOE said.

FOE has also filed an action with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) seeking to have Diablo Canyon shut down.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.