LOS ANGELES – Dozens of environmental and anti-nuclear organizations on Tuesday voiced opposition to any attempt to extend the life of California’s last operating nuclear power plant, disputing the view that its electricity is needed to meet a potential deficit in the future in the country.
Last month, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom suggested that the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, located on a coastal cliff halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, could continue to operate after its scheduled closure until 2025. His office said the governor is in favor of “keeping all options to ensure we have a reliable (electrical) grid”.
In a letter to Newsom, groups that included the San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, the Oregon Conservancy Foundation, the Snake River Alliance and the Free Nuclear Network said the station was old, dangerous and too close to earthquake faults that posed a threat to twin reactors.
“Your proposal to extend the life of the Diablo Canyon nuclear facility is outrageous,” they wrote. “Devil’s Canyon is dangerous, dirty and expensive. He should resign as planned. “
The Democrat governor has no direct authority over the plant’s operating license. He suggested the owner of Pacific Gas & Electric could get a $ 6 billion stake in federal funding that the Biden administration set up to save nuclear power plants that are threatened with closure.
PG&E, which in 2016 decided to close the plant by 2025, did not respond directly to Newsham’s offer at the time and did not say whether the company would consider seeking federal dollars to stay open after the planned closure.
PG&E announced a closure plan in 2016 as part of an agreement with environmentalists and unions, citing “recognition that California’s new energy policy will significantly reduce the power generation needs of Diablo Canyon.” But Newsham’s proposal stresses that thinking has changed as the state seeks reliable energy sources amid a changing global climate as California gradually switches to solar, wind and other renewable energy sources.
Recently, government officials warned that prolonged droughts, extreme heat and forest fires – combined with supply chains and regulatory challenges hampering the solar industry – would create problems for energy reliability this summer and in the years to come.
Environmental groups have argued that continuing to operate the plant after the planned closure will result in hundreds of tons of high-level radioactive waste without permanent storage for them. And they said the state, at its own expense, is building enough wind, solar and other renewable energy sources to replace Diablo’s electricity.
They also questioned whether there would be enough federal funds to unravel the complex deal to close Diablo Canyon, which is regulated by state and federal agencies.
The Diablo Canyon ranges from long debates about the ability of structures to withstand earthquakes – one fault runs 650 yards (594 meters) from reactors – to the possibility of PG&E being ordered by state regulators to spend potentially billions of dollars to change or replace a plant’s cooling system. sucks water from the ocean and is accused of killing fish and other marine life.
Newsom continues to support the closure of the plant “in the long run” as the state switches to renewable energy.
There are 55 commercial nuclear power plants with 93 nuclear reactors in 28 US states. Nuclear power provides about 20% of the electricity in the US, or about half of the carbon-free energy in the country.