California ballot measure would close nuclear plants

Posted by Christine, November 25, 2011

As reported in the San Luis Obispo Tribune:

A proposed state ballot initiative would force Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, as well as California’s other nuclear plant, to shut down, causing electricity rates to jump and possibly resulting in rolling blackouts, according to a nonpartisan analysis.

The proposed Nuclear Waste Act of 2012 would require that no nuclear power be generated until the federal government can permanently dispose of high-level nuclear waste.

In a report to lawmakers, the legislative analyst’s office said the loss of the Diablo Canyon and San Onofre reactors would have an immediate impact on consumers, businesses and governments, the Orange County Register reported Wednesday. The plants provide about 16 percent of California’s power.

“Because the state’s two nuclear facilities are integral parts of the state’s electricity grid, their operation is currently necessary to ensure that the state has reliable access to electricity,” the LAO report said.

Conversely, enactment of the initiative could prevent significant costs to state and local governments in the unlikely event of a major nuclear accident, according to an analysis by the state Attorney General’s Office.

PG&E spokesman Kory Raftery said the utility, which operates Diablo Canyon, would not have a comment on the initiative until it qualifies for the ballot. Similarly, Jane Swanson, spokeswoman for the anti-nuclear San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, said she will not comment on the initiative until she has a chance to read the full measure.

Southern California Edison, which operates San Onofre, declined to comment on the proposed initiative unless the measure ends up before voters.

The initiative has been cleared for circulation, and supporters must gather 504,760 signatures to get the initiative on the November 2012 ballot. The deadline is April 16.

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen approved the signature-gathering effort Monday. The initiative was submitted by Ben Davis Jr. of the Sacramento area.

In an email, Davis said he hopes to have a website for the initiative online next week at The website will contain copies of the petition, which can be downloaded for signature gathering.

The initiative would extend to Diablo Canyon and San Onofre provisions of California law that prohibits the construction of new nuclear power plants until a permanent, federal solution for the storage of spent nuclear fuel is found.

Under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, the federal government promised to accept and dispose of spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste by Jan. 31, 1998. Nearly 14 years have passed since the deadline.

Spent fuel is being kept on site at the nuclear plants. The federal Energy Department was in the process of creating a repository in Nevada, but President Obama has halted that project.

California Watch and PBS
report on the faults underlying Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant:

After the devastating tsunami damage to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, seismologists in the United States are focusing on a potentially dangerous fault system near the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in California.

Perched over Point Buchon on the Central Coast, the PG&E plant was built four decades ago near two active faults: the Hosgri and the Shoreline. The electricity-generating facility on a barren stretch of coastline is about 12 miles from the college town of San Luis Obispo.