Members of the Diablo Canyon Independent Safety Committee have asked for further analysis on a new proposed cooling system at Pacific Gas & Electric's (PG&E) nuclear power plant.
At an Oct. 14 meeting, the three-member committee filed its "preliminary report" in response to the Bechtel report: a Bechtel Power Corporation technical evaluation of various possibilities to update the plant's cooling system. Diablo Canyon, like other power plants in the state, is under a mandate to replace its once-through cooling system, which the State Water Resources Control Board has found to be harmful to aquatic life.
However, committee members found that some of the proposed locations and types of cooling towers had the potential to impact safety at the plant, and should be studied further. Most significantly they raised questions about increased salt from the cooling tower plume, noting that salt from ocean spray at the plant's outfall has contributed to "flashover events" of electrical equipment.
"We're just trying to be as careful as we can to call attention to issues that need careful further analysis," committee member Bob Budnitz said.
All three committee members said they believed the changes to Diablo Canyon's cooling system would require a license amendment from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.