Federal regulators secretly and illegally revised the license for California’s last nuclear power facility — PG&E’s Diablo Canyon — to mask the aging plant’s vulnerability to earthquakes, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday by environmentalists.
The suit claims that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Pacific Gas and Electric Co. last year changed a key element of the plant’s license related to seismic safety without allowing public input as required by law — or even notifying the public at all. The changes concern the strength of earthquakes that the plant, perched on a stretch of the Central California coast riddled with fault lines, can withstand.
“This is a case where an agency is not following its own rules,” said Damon Moglen, senior strategic adviser with Friends of the Earth. “Our long-standing sense has been that this agency has far too cozy a relationship with the industry it regulates.”
The organization filed its suit in the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, a court that reviews decisions from federal agencies. The group wants the court to overturn the changes, order the commission to conduct public hearings on amending Diablo Canyon’s license and shut down the plant until the amendment process concludes.