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Anti-nuclear activists file appeal over Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant's safety operations

Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, Units 1 and 2.
Photo by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, Units 1 and 2.

Anti-nuclear activists are calling on the federal court to revisit safety decisions for Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant in San Luis Obispo County.

Two nonprofit groups, Mothers for Peace and Friends of the Earth, submitted an appeal brief to the ninth circuit court system this week. It accuses the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of making “unlawful” decisions when checking on the power plant’s safety operations.

“The NRC is responsible for ensuring that operation of nuclear reactors ‘provides adequate protection to the health and safety of the public,’” the brief read.

Linda Seeley with Mothers for Peace, claims the NRC neglected to check on an important piece of the power plant: its reactor pressure vessel.

“We decided to file the appeal because the reactor vessel is where the actual atomic reaction takes place,” Seeley said. “The Unit 1 reactor vessel at Diablo Canyon has not been inspected since 2003.”

Reactor pressure vessels are thick steel containers that hold nuclear fuel and keep radioactive material out of the environment, according to an NRC report.

The NRC declined KCBX’s request for comment due to the ongoing litigation.

But, in an email to KCBX, Pacific, Gas and Electric spokesperson, Suzanne Hosn, said, “all testing to-date has demonstrated that the reactor vessels for both Units 1 and 2 meet the NRC’s acceptance criteria,” Hosn said.

Hosn also said the reactor vessels at Diablo Canyon are held inside their respective containment domes, which are built on a 14.5-foot-thick concrete base built into bedrock.

Seeley said Mothers for Peace and Friends of the Earth are calling on the NRC to inspect the power plant further.

KCBX Reporter Amanda Wernik graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a BS in Journalism. Amanda is currently a fellow with the USC Center for Health Journalism, completing a data fellowship that will result in a news feature series to air on KCBX in the winter of 2024.
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