Ryan Chartrand

Members of PG&E and the Diablo Canyon Independent Safety Committee held a public meeting Wednesday to discuss a wide variety of issues concerning the Central Coast’s nuclear power plant.

From 8:30a.m. to 7:00p.m. on Oct. 18, members of PG&E representing Diablo Canyon relayed current findings and updates to members of the DCISC during three separate meetings open to the public in the Embassy Suites Hotel near the Madonna Plaza in San Luis Obispo. The meetings included reports on minor regulatory violations, security improvements and updates on the completion of an on-site nuclear waste facility and the construction of new steam generators for the aging power plant.

The DCISC, a state agency that reviews and makes recommendations concerning the safety operations at PG&E’s Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, listened intently as Larry Parker, the supervisor of nuclear services for Diablo Canyon, began the meeting with a report on incidences of procedural or regulatory violations that may have occurred at the power plant during the last quarter.

According to Parker, there were no major violations to report at the power plant and only five non-classified violations (NCV’s), defined by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as violations of more than minor concern, which, left uncorrected, could lead to a more serious problem.

Members of the DCISC expressed concern that the number of NCV’s in the last quarter showed a trend that could lead to future problems, but Parker assured the committee that their were “no discernable trends” and that the power plant “continues to experience a low number of reportable events.”

Parker also added that the number of reportable occurrences of NCV’s at Diablo Canyon remains slightly below the average for NRC Region IV (Western United States).

Second on the agenda was a presentation regarding updates on increased security and recent threat response exercise results conducted at Diablo Canyon.

Mike Meko, director of site services, reported that Diablo Canyon had boosted security by enlisting the services of thirteen new graduates from PG&E’s Security Academy and two alarm station operators in training. Meko also reported that a recent counter-terrorism drill held at Diablo Canyon called “Force On Force” produced excellent results, and all the objectives of the exercise were achieved. However, Meko noted that PG&E is waiting for final evaluations from the NRC.

Next on the agenda was a presentation about progress of the on-site spent fuel storage facility currently being constructed adjacent to the power plant. The facility, started in 2005, is to be completed in December, according to Jearl Strickland, the strategic projects manager for Diablo Canyon.

When completed, the spent fuel storage facility will permanently conceal the nuclear reactors highly toxic spent fuel. Pictures detailing the design and construction of the storage facility were presented to the DCISC to show the integrity of the structure. There was no comment concerning the facility from the DCISC.

Last on the agenda was a presentation on the construction of new steam generators that are scheduled to replace the aging generators at Diablo Canyon sometime in 2008. According to Bob Exner, the generations service director for Diablo Canyon, three of four steam generators for Reactor Unit-2 are near completion and represent the “best manufacturing” he has seen. The steam generators are to be delivered in November 2007.

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