Wait a Minute! The Diablo Canyon Panel Is Working!

COMMENTARY

On January 29, POWER magazine published a local viewpoint from one of the members of the Diablo Canyon Decommissioning Engagement Panel (DCDEP). In the commentary, Alex Karlin urged the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to take immediate action to replace the current DCDEP with an independent community advisory panel for purposes of monitoring and providing oversight in addition to communicating community concerns regarding the projected decommissioning of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, beginning in 2024–2025 and lasting a number of decades. Karlin’s viewpoint is concerning because neither the DCDEP nor the community has had the opportunity to conduct an intended in-depth evaluation of his recommendation or several other possible alternatives.

Therefore, several other members of the DCDEP wish to communicate the following points, which reflect the thinking of most of the public members of the DCDEP:

  • Relevant to Karlin’s proposal, please consider the work that has been accomplished during 2018 by the current DCDEP, as evidenced by the year-end “A Strategic Vision” document released on Jan. 8. Since its formation in May 2018, the DCDEP has conducted seven public meetings and hosted four full-day workshops resulting in recommendations on the decommissioning process, funding, use of 12,000 acres of surrounding lands, and reuse of Diablo Canyon facilities after decommissioning. Upcoming topics for 2019 include spent fuel management, economic impacts of decommissioning, transportation related impacts, and the future structure and role of the DCDEP.
  • The DCDEP is well-aware of Karlin’s recommendations and already had scheduled a meeting on June 12 to consider his proposal in the context of a larger discussion about the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement in the chartered mission of the DCDEP to serve as a communication link between the local communities of San Luis Obispo (SLO) County and Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) with regard to the anticipated decommissioning. We thought that it was an appropriate time to step back and engage the community in a conversation on our effectiveness following one full year of operation.
  • As part of the evaluation process, the DCDEP anticipates holding public workshops during the month of May (dates and location yet to be determined) to receive input from experts on appropriate community panel structures and functions, and also hear from interested members of the SLO County communities. The purpose of the workshops will be to help DCDEP members and the community understand the issues and make well-informed recommendations to PG&E and to the CPUC regarding the ongoing structure and function of the DCDEP or its successor entity that truly serves our unique situation.
  • The DCDEP wishes to extend an invitation to the CPUC, to the county Board of Supervisors, cities, and interested members of the local community to participate actively in these workshops and in the June 12 public meeting.

Most importantly, we ask that no actions be taken with regard to Karlin’s recommendations until our community has had the opportunity to openly discuss these issues at the May workshops and June public meeting, and the subsequent issuance of the DCDEP’s recommendations on this important topic.

Finally, the DCDEP wishes to communicate that its primary focus for the first quarter of 2019 is consideration of the issue of spent fuel storage at the Diablo Canyon Power Plant. This is a very important issue, highly deserving of community attention. We invite broad community participation at the following scheduled events:

  • February 22–23, 2019. Workshops (public invited) that will include presentations from PG&E, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the California Energy Commission, and at least three competing vendors of storage casks, and a discussion of the strategies for handling spent fuel and related issues. Opportunities for public input will also be provided.
  • March 13, 2019. Public DCDEP meeting, which will recap findings from the workshops, solicit additional public testimony, and develop DCDEP recommendations regarding spent fuel storage issues for PG&E and the CPUC.

The DCDEP wishes to extend its thanks to the community for their active participation in the work of the DCDEP this past year. The community’s interest has been demonstrated by the nearly 1,000 discrete communications from the public received thus far. We hope that such participation will continue in 2019 as we address more issues critically important to the anticipated decommissioning of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

This communication has been endorsed by the following public members of the DCDEP: Lauren Brown, David Baldwin, Dena Bellman, Sheri Danoff, Scott Lathrop, Frank Mecham, Nancy O’Malley, Linda Seeley, and Kara Woodruff.