Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility
For Immediate Release
Contact: Rochelle Becker, Executive Director 858-337-2703


March 2, 2007
For Immediate Release

Two California State Assembly members have introduced legislation to lift the ban on additional nuclear generation in California, despite the failure of the federal government to solve the problem that caused California to enact the ban.

AB 719 (DeVore, La Malfa) states: “Current California law prohibits the permitting of any new commercial nuclear powerplants until an approved means of disposal of high-level nuclear waste becomes available. With federal efforts well underway to provide an approved means of high-level nuclear waste disposal, and given that timelines for nuclear powerplant design, permitting, construction, on line operation, and first refueling would likely be in excess of 10 years, by the time a powerplant would be ready for operation, an approved high-level nuclear waste disposal means will be available.”

“This cart couldn’t be put any farther before the horse,” commented Rochelle Becker, Executive Director of the California Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility. “Federal efforts to find an approved means of disposal have been ‘well under way’ since California’s current nuclear plants got their permits in the late 60’s. Although ratepayers have spent over $18 million to date on the search for a way to get rid of the waste, federal efforts have proven to be empty and expensive promises.”

California’s 1976 moratorium on nuclear plants has prevented the state from coming to resemble the Eastern seaboard and Midwest, which are now covered by and dependent on aging nuclear plants. More than 70,000 tons of high level radioactive waste now sits on fragile waterways and seismically active coasts.

According to Platts.com, an industry media outlet, “Pacific Gas & Electric Corporation CEO Peter Darbee recently said his company would welcome a partner to invest in nuclear generation outside of California. Southern California Edison President John Fielder last week said his company is tracking developments in the nuclear industry.” The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is focusing on existing sites for proposed construction of new nuclear plants. The Diablo Canyon nuclear facility was originally designed for six nuclear reactors. Other existing sites include Rancho Seco, Humboldt and the San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station in San Diego County.

The introduction of AB 719 follows the announcement by Fresno Nuclear LLC that it has committed 10 million dollars to investigate construction of a nuclear plant operating in conjunction with the city’s waste water facility. One problem with this plan is the inability of the nuclear industry to estimate what nuclear power will cost when complete, a record on view in California’s history with nuclear cost overruns. The state’s two operating reactor sites, both estimated to cost under $500 million, had final costs ranging from just under $5 billion at San Onofre to $5.7 billion at Diablo Canyon.

AB 719 is being touted as the “Zero Carbon Dioxide Emission Electrical Generation Act of 2007” by its sponsors. “The mantra that nuclear power is the answer to global warming is gaining in popularity,” notes Becker, “despite the reality that it would take 2,000 new reactors, built at a cost of trillions of dollars,to make any kind of dent in greenhouse gas emissions, and the fact that decentralizedclean power and energy efficiency are already demonstrating that they deliver far more climate change-fighting bang for the buck than nuclear can.

“While we’re tempted to join the general sentiment in Sacramento where the response from legislators has been to laugh this bill off, we are reminded that when you say something over and over, and the media repeats it, the public begins to believe that rumors are true.”

In July, the California Energy Commission will undertake a study of the costs, benefits and risks of California’s reliance on existing nuclear plants.

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