Anti-nuclear protesters demonstrate outside PUC meeting

April 14, 2011 8:44:07 PM PDT
Anti-nuclear protesters demonstrated outside the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) meeting in San Francisco Thursday morning. They said the disaster in Japan should be a wake-up call.

Comparisons between the Japan and California are even shakier than the faults. It boils down to this -- protestors believe nuclear technology is so fraught with the potential for disaster that no new plants should be built and licenses for the existing plants shouldn't be renewed.

Anti-nuclear protesters stood in front of the state building on Van Ness Ave. and lined up inside to voice their opposition. More than one made the connection between Pacific Gas and Electric's nuclear power plant at Diablo Canyon and the company's deadly natural gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno.

"So why should we have confidence that PG&E is being meticulously safe in operating a nuclear power plant?" said one of the speakers.

The nuclear disaster in Japan has raised a lot of concerns about the potential for a similar earthquake and tsunami. But the fault lines running near California's nuclear plants are not the same as they are in Japan. The seismic structure here does not produce tsunamis.

One of the organizers of Thursday's demonstration says that doesn't really matter.

"What happened at Fukushima was the result of multiple incidents and accidents and unanticipated consequences that could not have been predicted," said Jacqueline Cabasso, executive director of the Western States Legal Foundation, who believes it's enough that nuclear energy production has unresolved risks. "Radioactive waste that remains lethal for litterally hundreds of thousands of years."

Inside the hearing a PG&E representatives listened but afterwards they would not comment on camera. The PUC doesn't decide issues of nuclear safety, that's overseen by the nuclear regulatory agency. The PUC does hold the purse strings for California's nuclear plants in that the PUC can decide how much rate payers should be charged for the energy produced.

We asked the PUC's executive director, Paul Clanon, if he's seen anything that would lead him to think that the PUC would not fund Diablo Canyon. He responded, "Well, the PUC commissioners are not rushing to judgment on anything, their ears are open, we're learning the lessons of Japan and we'll make judicious decisions." We tried asking him again, to which he said, "So we're going to make judicious decisions based on the facts and nobody's rushing to any conclusions here."

You could argue one lesson from Japan is that it's better to be more forthcoming with information.

PG&E's Diablo Canyon spokesman told ABC7 the company is asking for a delay in its license renewal, but it has nothing to do with the current climate of distrust over San Bruno or the Fukushima disaster. PG&E says instead, it would just be better to wait until new seismic studies around Diablo Canyon are completed, sometime around December of 2015.


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