Diablo Plant Delays License Bid for Quake Study

By BEN CASSELMAN And STEPHEN POWER  |  Wall Street Journal  |  Link to article

The owner of California’s Diablo Canyon nuclear-power plant said it wouldn’t seek license renewals for its two reactors until new studies of the area’s vulnerability to earthquakes can be conducted.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. had applied for a 20-year license extension for the plant, which sits on California’s earthquake-prone central coast. But in a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Sunday, the utility asked regulators to delay its application until it can complete new seismic studies.

Like Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant, which was severely hobbled by March’s massive earthquake and ensuing tsunami, Diablo Canyon is on the coast and is located near several faults, though it doesn’t use the same type of reactors as Daiichi.

“In light of recent events at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, and the considerable public concern regarding the need to assure the seismic safety at [Diablo Canyon], PG&E has decided it is most prudent to have completed certain seismic studies” before a new license is issued, the company’s senior vice president, John T. Conway, wrote in a letter to the NRC.

PG&E isn’t asking for a complete halt to the license-renewal process. It is asking the agency to continue reviewing its application, but to delay issuing a new license until the seismic studies are complete. An NRC spokesman said the agency is reviewing the company’s letter “to determine what impact, if any, this will have on our schedule.”

Diablo Canyon’s current reactor licenses are scheduled to expire in 2024 and 2025, but the utility company was applying early for renewal. (read entire article)