Former Energy Commission Director to Lead Intervention on Nuclear Proceedings

The Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility has signed on energy policy heavy hitter John Geesman in its intervention over Pacific Gas & Electric’s request for $64 million in ratepayer funding to conduct seismic studies at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in central California.

Geesman previously served as executive director and commissioner of the California Energy Commission, and was a prominent opponent of 2010’s failed Proposition 16, which would have required a two-thirds “super majority” vote in order for communities to establish a municipal utility.

“The fact that the [California Public Utilities Commission] staff could recently rubber-stamp Southern California Edison's proposed seismic studies for the San Onofre nuclear plant without review by any seismic experts shows what we're up against,” said Geesman on the Alliance’s decision to challenge PG&E. The group questions not only the cost, which has risen $47 million since the initial request was made, but the merits of the study’s scope.

They also question the competence of PG&E and CPUC’s oversight, given the 2010 San Bruno gas pipeline explosion that destroyed 53 homes and damaged 120 others, warning that failure at one of the state’s two operating nuclear facilities, both of which they allege sit in seismically vulnerable areas, could be far worse. “San Bruno was tragic. San Bruno plus radiation would be catastrophic,” said Alliance outreach coordinator David Weisman.

“Nobody finds the dry rot in our regulatory system more effectively than John Geesman, and it is an honor to have him represent us,” said Alliance executive director Rochelle Becker on the addition of Geesman to her team.

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Radiation can have a half-life of millions of years, and we haven't been around that long to know its long term safety on humans or the environment. There is no safe level of radiation. The only other people that would have you believe this are obviously the Nuclear Commission or their paid scientists.

What to do:

BIG NEWS, which I predicted: Edison kept San Onofre steam generator replacement details secret from NRC snip The study by Arnie Gundersen and Fairewinds Associates, and commissioned by nuclear watchdog Friends of the Earth, is the first public technical analysis since problems were discovered at the two now-closed reactors at San Onofre: Reactor Unit 2 was undergoing a regularly scheduled shutdown in January when severe damage was found in tubes in the steam generator system.Reactor Unit 3 was shut down by Edison on January 31 after radioactive water leaked from a damaged pipe in the steam generators. The steam generators at both reactors are only months old and were installed at a cost to ratepayers of some $671 million. In his analysis of available public information, Gundersen has concluded that "both units 2 and 3 have experienced extraordinarily rapid degradation of their steam generator tubes." He has concluded that the "severe short-term steam generator degradation" could lead to a "large risk of tube failure" and result in "an uncontrolled release of radiation into the environment." While the NRC has said that the "root cause of the tube leak has not yet been determined," Gundersen concludes that four significant changes were made to the design of the new steam generators, all of which may be contributing to their dramatic degradation: the tube alloy used is different, the reactor flow rate was changed, more steam generator tubes were added, and key modifications were made to the "egg crate" architecture that holds the tubing in the steam generator. Yet when Edison notified the NRC that it would be replacing the steam generators, it argued that it was making a "like for like" replacement. By misleading the NRC on the true nature of the replacement, Edison fooled the NRC into giving a rubber stamp and not conducting a thorough NRC review and approval process.

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