NRC panel to consider FOE participation in Diablo Canyon seismic issue

The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will hold a hearing Jan. 21 to consider the Friends of the Earth (FOE) participation in an ongoing case that involves seismic safety issues at the Pacific Gas and Electric (PGE) (NYSE:PCG) Diablo Canyon nuclear station in California.

During the upcoming hearing, ASLB will hear oral argument concerning the request for a hearing and petition to intervene and request for a waiver by Friends of the Earth.

FOE and three existing parties will make an opening statement during the Jan. 21 hearing. The ASLB expects that the oral argument will consist primarily of response to the board’s questions.

For example, the ASLB wants to know if serious seismic issues exist, how these matters might be addressed outside the license renewal context and how would FOE be able to participate. In addition how does a petition submitted by FOE to the NRC in August 2014 differ from FOE’s petition before the board?

Other questions include:

“Is the 2014 PG&E Seismic Report part of the license renewal application and/or is it subject to challenge in the license renewal proceeding? What information in the report is significantly different and material? How does it differ from previous information?”

Also, does any party disagree that PG&E must demonstrate its ability for safe shutdown during a seismic event? Does this duty pertain to license renewal or to the plants continuing license basis (CLF)?

Also, are aging management programs (AMPs) intended to account for the effects of earthquakes, is another issue to be considered by a three-judge panel of the ASLB.

The case involves Docket No. 50-275-LR and Docket No. 50-323-LR, ASLBP No. 10-900-01-LR-BD01.

The upcoming hearing is set for NRC headquarters in Rockville, Md. In October, FOE asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to overturn a “secret decision” by NRC on the operating license for Diablo Canyon.

FOE maintains this ruling marks the station’s true earthquake risk.

Diablo Canyon is a dual unit pressurized water reactor (PWR) station located in San Luis Obispo County, Calif. Each of the two units is has an operating capacity of roughly 1,100 MW. The station had an 87% capacity factor in 2012, according to GenerationHub data.

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.