Immediately following this week’s historic announcement of the Joint Proposal governing the closure of Diablo Canyon Power Plant, California’s Pacific Gas and Electric requested that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) suspend Diablo’s license renewal application. As stated in PG&E's letter to the NRC:
The agreement in principle is subject to approval by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). PG&E anticipates filing this agreement with the CPUC within the next 60 days and will be requesting CPUC approval by December 31, 2017. In light of this contingency, PG&E believes it prudent to suspend the DCPP license renewal application at this time. If the agreement is approved by the CPUC, PG&E will withdraw the license renewal application.
Current NRC regulations allow nuclear power plant operators to apply to extend an initial 40-year operating license for an additional 20 years. The NRC’s summary information on reactor license renewals lists 12 reactor license renewals currently under review: Indian Point 1 & 2; Diablo 1 & 2 (NRC has yet to be update its website on the status of Diablo’s license renewal application); Seabrook 1; South Texas Project 1 & 2; Grand Gulf 1; Fermi 2; LaSalle 1 & 2; and Waterford 3. Another 84 reactors are listed by the NRC as having completed license renewal applications, including three reactors since closed and five reactors closing prior to the end of their extended licenses.
The NRC received a license renewal application for Diablo Canyon’s two reactors almost seven years ago, on November 24, 2009. Over the years PG&E had progressed through different stages of license renewal for Diablo, including hearings, public meetings, audits, a safety evaluation report and an environmental report with the nuclear plant’s severe accident mitigation analysis. NRC had estimated a decision on the Diablo Canyon license renewal application to be made after May, 2017.
PG&E’s suspension of Diablo Canyon’s license renewal application is a significant early step in the years of work ahead to realize the important objectives of the Joint Proposal.