April 11, 2011
Pacific Gas & Electric made a formal request to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Monday that the agency temporarily suspend an ongoing license renewal application that would allow PG&E to run its Diablo Canyon plant beyond 2024. With Japanese emergency workers still working round-the-clock in response to the near-meltdown conditions at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant after a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck last month, PG&E committed to enhanced seismic mapping around its plant just outside San Luis Obispo.
The request comes after about a month of tough questioning from elected officials, including State Senator Sam Blakeslee (R-San Luis Obisbpo), who asked PG&E to withdraw its relicensing application at a senate hearing in March.
“Will you withdraw or suspend your request to the NRC?” Blakeslee asked at the hearing, to which PG&E refused to furnish a yes or no response.
Blakeslee also requested that PG&E complete 3-dimensional seismic mapping of the surrounding area to better understand earthquake risk to the plant. The plant is located within three miles of at least two known earthquake faults; the Hosgri fault was discovered as construction on the plant was underway in 1971, and the shoreline fault was discovered in 2008. No modifications to the plant have been made since learning about the second fault, a half mile from the coastal facility. The company determined the fault posed no threat greater than the existing facility was built to withstand.
“In the wake of the tragic accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, we know that many of our customers and government partners are concerned and want to know more about the seismic characteristics surrounding the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant,” said John Conway, PG&E’s Senior Vice President of Energy Supply and Chief Nuclear Officer, in a statement.