The political action group that successfully challenged PG&E's government-approved permits to construct a uranium storage facility on the Central Coast warned the Nuclear Regulatory Commission this week not to rush through its court-ordered terrorism review.
Last year in San Francisco, Mothers for Peace won a bid to invalidate the permits to load two decades' worth of spent fuel into a cluster of dry storage casks behind Diablo Canyon. On Jan. 16, the group prevailed again when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ruling of the lesser appeals court. Now, Mothers for Peace is cautioning the NRC not to let the utility's timetables trump a thorough review of the possible environmental effects of a terrorist attack on the plant.
Regional NRC spokesman Victor Dricks didn't return phone calls as of press time, but has expressed in the past that the commission will not comment on ongoing litigation.
Mothers for Peace's caution came after PG&E formally petitioned the NRC to process the study with all due diligence. Due to ongoing delays in construction of a national spent fuel repository in Nevada and an on-site storage pool that is nearly full, the corporate operator of the 2,200-megawatt nuclear giant must soon start filling the casks or silence the reactors.
Mothers for Peace leaders were disturbed by what they saw as construction schedules taking priority over public safety.
"If safety was the priority, PG&E would have stopped construction of the dry cask storage facility when the Ninth Circuit Court ordered the NRC to study the environmental effects of terrorism [back in June]," Mothers for Peace organizer Jane Swanson said.
Mothers for Peace believes that the dry storage casks clustered on a hill and protected by a berm present too juicy of a target for terrorist attack and that the current facility design falls short in guarding against a radiation leak.
"It's in the hands of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to determine what needs to be done," PG&E spokesman Jeff Lewis said. "We believe the security requirements for those used fuel containers are more than adequate."