Devilment at Diablo Goes On – So Soon, They Forget…

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Meltdown at Diablo ArtOfMark Bryan-com

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana – Reason in Common Sense, The Life of Reason, Vol.1

Every Little Thing Is Gonna Be Alright – Bob Marley

Posted by James Heddle, Mary Beth Brangan – EON

[Authors’ Preface: The Democratic Party’s precarious hold on a Congressional majority –  which ends on January 3rd – has motivated a desperate push for its pro-nuclear agenda aimed at reviving a faltering U.S. commercial nuclear power industry and its co-dependent evil Siamese twin, the U.S. nuclear weapons complex. 

At the recent Cop27 climate conference in Egypt, John Kerry was busy selling Poland three of the same models of Westinghouse reactors now years behind schedule and $13 billion over budget in Georgia.  A similar project in South Carolina has been canceled and Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy in 2017.  US Special Climate Envoy Kerry also sold small modular reactors to Romania and Ukraine.

Along with its quest for increased global nuclear market share abroad that would establish a new set of dependent vassal states cum nuclear-capable allies – the Party is simultaneously pushing for so-called ‘Consolidated Interim Storage’ facilities for the country’s huge backlog of deadly, long-lived radioactive nuclear plant waste, and a re-booting of uranium mining.  Both these agenda items, if implemented, will devastatingly impact indigenous and minority communities already suffering from a history of nuclear colonialism.

Then there is the DOE’s announcement that the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore Lab in California has achieved a ‘breakthrough’ in the perpetually unfulfilled quest for nuclear fusion, a technology without commercial feasibility, but very useful in upgrading the U.S. arsenal of nuclear bombs. Civilian nuclear power is the necessary enabler of thermonuclear weapons production and the maintenance of the U.S nuclear Navy. As a recent Progressive article puts it, Its All About the Bomb.

This is the context of the unfolding Diablo debacle in California.]

Schizophrenic Policy At Diablo Canyon

Schizophrenia is a psychiatric term associated with “loss of touch with reality.” We were reminded of that diagnostic designation as we watched last the December 14 on-line Diablo Canyon Decommissioning Engagement Panel meeting on the extension of the nuclear power plant’s operation.. [The video, slides and transcripts of the meeting will soon be available at DiabloCanyonPanel.org.]

A remote Zoom event with no viewer participation permitted, the meeting was rife with happy talk and repeated reassurances of “as much transparency as possible” in what looks increasingly like an insane plan to put PG&E’s embrittled 47 year-old reactors on extended life-support for another five-to-twenty years. (Kind of like hoping to drive your 1985 Falcon for another 5 to 20 years.)

The meeting featured presentations from California Energy Commissioner Siva Gunda, Tom Jones of PG&E, and Dr. Robert Budnitz of the Diablo Canyon Independent Safety Committee.

Mr. Gunda was tasked with presenting the disaster fear porn computer projections of future climate change and looming power supply ‘reliability challenges’ being used as the rationale for Diablo’s deathbed resuscitation. As any geek knows, the accuracy of computer models matches the validity of the assumptions fed into them. From false assumptions come false projections. Hence the technical formula ‘GIGO’ – Garbage In, Garage Out – which may well be relevant to this enterprise.

California Energy Commission Slide Grab

Mr. Gunda also outlined the timetable of ‘statutory readiness’ – the technical and regulatory hurdles that litter the path to the extended operation of the plant.

CEC Slide Grab

Tom Jones presented PG&E’s bi-polar plan to ride off in two directions at once, simultaneously preparing for shutdown/decommissioning and continued operation into the indefinite future.

 

PG&E Slide Grab

Dr. ‘Feel Good’ Budnitz painted a rosy picture of the Independent Safety Committee’s stellar record of rigorously objective oversight through the years, praising PG&E as the apotheosis of corporate responsibility, and dismissing any concerns regarding maintenance and seismic risks.

The fact that Dr. Budnitz was speaking to a public chamber empty of  members of the public is starkly emblematic of the absence of democracy in the current ‘save Diablo’ process, just as it is in the entire on-going revivalist campaign in support of a new generation of nuclear power and weapons.

It’s hard to imagine Dr. Budnitz jiving to Bob Marley’s Reggae rhythms, but he did seem to singing the same lyrics with the help of the CEC and PG&E supplying the back-up chorus = “Every little thing is gonna be all right.”

Au Contraire – A Diablo Dossier

We’re going to go instead with Professor Santayana’s aphorism quoted above and offer some help with remembering the recent past.

In a decade of reporting on unfolding developments at Diablo Canyon we have produced a series of video reports and articles documenting both the persistence of citizen demands for nuclear public safety, and the consistent pattern of corporate and regulatory perfidy and mismanagement in response.

The current push to extend the aging reactors’ operation ignores a long history of corporate and regulatory incompetence and informed public resistance that seems to have disappeared down the memory hole.

Last nights’ meeting and the recent publication of Greg Schwartz’s excellent Counterpunch article A Risky Gamble at Diablo Canyonwhich we highly recommend – has reminded us to make our documentation of Diablo’s seismic dangers newly available to people currently seeking information to help in defeating the dangerous drive for license extension of the plant.

From the Memory Hole

The seismic risks and other of Diablo Canyon have long been well known.

In a June 10, 2016 presentation at Cal Poly, Arnie Gundersen, Chief Nuclear Engineer at Fairewinds Energy Education, delivered an informed warning that has had 1,704 views.

World in Danger – Arnie Gundersen

As nuclear enthusiasts clamored to extend the operation of California’s last, aging nuclear power plant, Diablo Canyon, located on 13 intersecting earthquake faults in a tsunami zone, prominent whistleblower Arnie Gundersen pointed out ‘the California-Fukushima connection.’ Every operating reactor, where ever it is, poses a danger to the entire planet.  

Diablo is a ‘worst case’ waiting to happen.

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Senator Barbara Boxer is Sorely Missed

California Democratic Senator Boxer, now retired, was for years chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. During her tenure, Sen. Boxer chaired hearings probing nuclear safety issues.

[Researchers please see also: Sen. Boxer’s 2012 hearing, ‘NRC’s Implementation and Recommendations for Enhancing Nuclear Reactor Safety in the 21st Century’:

Boxer-NRC Hearing hr 1 – Fukushima Lessons Not Learned
Boxer-NRC Hearing Hr 2 – Fukushima Lessons Not Learned ]

The following excerpts from a 2014 hearing she chaired contain information even more relevant now than it was then.

Also included below are other background reports on Diablo Canyon with direct and urgent current relevance.

We invite you to have a look.



ASSESSING DIABLO’S RISKS – Hirsch & Blakeslee

In a Dec. 3, 2014 testimony before Senator Barbara Boxer’s Committee on Environment & Public Works, Daniel Hirsch, Nuclear Policy Analyst, UC Santa Cruz and Dr. Sam Blakeslee, Geophysicist, former Republican CA State Senator reveal PG&E’s history of incompetence, fact-fudging and safety violations, the NRC’s history of lax regulation and new seismic risk discoveries. They call for a full adjudicatory re-licensing hearing for the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in San Luis Obispo, California.





Nuclear Negligence at Diablo – Dan Hirsch

Déjà vu All Over Again Daniel Hirsch lays out the long, sad history of PG&E and NRC nuclear negligence and incompetence at Diablo Canyon in this excerpted testimony before Senator Barbara Boxer’s Committee on Environment and Public Works, Dec. 3, 2014. Hirsch heads CommitteeToBridgeTheGap.org and is a lecturer at the University of California in Santa Cruz.

His testimony shows that from Humboldt Bay to Bodega Head to Diablo Canyon PG&E has consistently chosen nuclear sites on earthquake faults and the NRC has consistently failed to enforce its own seismic safety standards.

Now, although one of its own Senior Inspectors has reported that Diablo Canyon, located in a tsunami zone near San Luis Obispo, is out of safety compliance and called for the plant’s shutdown, the NRC has failed to take action.

Despite the recent discovery that Diablo Canyon sits on the intersections of 13 active earthquake faults capable of releasing far more seismic force than the reactors were designed to withstand, PG&E is applying for an extension of it’s operating license without making any upgrades and without a re-licensing hearing.

As other segments of this historic hearing make painfully clear, the NRC’s non-enforcement of it’s own rules and staff recommendations post-Fukushima has become standard operating procedure for a so-called ‘regulatory agency’ more committed to industry profits and the promotion of nuclear energy than the protection of public safety. Sadly, this was Senator Boxer’s last hearing as Chair of this important Committee. The gavel passed to leading Republican Sen. James Inhofe.


Republican Calls for Diablo Safety Probe

Dr. Sam Blakeslee, a PhD. geophysicist, former California Republican state senator, and former commissioner, California Seismic Safety Commission is advocating an immediate seismic safety investigation of PG&E’s Diablo Canyon nuclear plant near San Luis Obispo, CA.

In Dec. 3, 2014 testimony before Senator Barbara Boxer’s Committee on Environment and Public Works, Blakeslee – who is emphatically NOT ‘anti-nuclear’ – denounced the fact that as new discoveries of potential earthquake dangers have increased, PG&E’s standards for seismic safety have gone down.





PG&E’s Diablo Canyon Seismic Risks

San Francisco, CA. Feb. 25, 2013 – Citizens question California Public Utilities Commission’s Independent Peer Review Panel (IPRP) on seismic risks to PG&E’s Diablo Canyon nuclear plant.


How Diablo Canyon Got Its Name – Fred Collins

This is an excerpt from the Jan. 2015 National Conference on Shutting Down Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant. Fred Collins, Tribal Spokesperson for the Northern Chumash Tribal Council, talks about the history and culture of his people, the impact of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant on the regional environment, the Council’s plans for a National Marine Sanctuary Area in the region and how Diablo Canyon got its name.


4 Decades Working to Shut Diablo – Linda Seeley

On Saturday, May 9, 2015, the Democratic Club of Malibu, CA held a conference titled “Are We Ready for a Diablo Canyon Meltdown?” In this segment, Linda Seeley of Mothers For Peace reports on the organization’s 40-something years of persistent fighting to shut down Diablo Canyon. If the I Ching is right, and ‘Persistence Furthers,’ Diablo is doomed. Organized by Club President Ann Doneen and Myla Reson, the well-attended event was MCed by author Harvey Wasserman.


Public Opposition to Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant – Historic Clip

This is a clip from the historic 1986 documentary film A QUESTION OF POWER directed by David L. Brown, which tells the story of public opposition to the building of PG&E’s nuclear reactors at Diablo Canyon, near San Luis Obispo, CA. The full DVD is available from http://www.dlbfilms.com/




Mary Beth Brangan and James Heddle Co-Direct EON, the Ecological Options Network.. The EON feature documentary S.O.S. – The San Onofre Syndrome will be released early next year.