On April 19, 2017, the California Public Utilities Commission in San Francisco opened hearings on PG&E’s Joint Proposal to shut down the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in San Francisco. The hearings are expected to continue on weekdays through April 28. Administrative Law Judge Peter G. Allen is presiding.
Attorney Sabrina Venskus is representing San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (MFP), which is a party to the proceeding. MFP takes the position that Diablo Canyon can and must be shut down by 2019:
- The facility is old and in need of repairs and replacement of worn and failing components. The costs of needed maintenance are so prohibitively expensive that PG&E has already filed several requests with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission asking permission to delay inspections and replacement of parts.
- PG&E’s seismic analysis is inaccurate, and the costs of repairing damage caused by even a “small” earthquake could be catastrophic, both in human terms and economically.
- California doesn’t need the power from Diablo Canyon. The use of energy efficiency, conservation, and renewable energy (wind, solar, geothermal), will be able to more than replace the electricity lost by a Diablo closure in 2019.
The home page of the MFP website at https://mothersforpeace.org/ provides access to the testimony from MFP’s expert witnesses: Arnie Gundersen, nuclear engineer; David Jackson, Ph.D., geophysicist; and Robert Freehling, renewable energy expert.
Attorney Venskus will show that shutting down Diablo Canyon in 2019 rather than in 2025, as PG&E proposes, would benefit the ratepayers and the people of the State of California.
San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace has opposed the operation of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant since 1973, when the all-volunteer non-profit organization gained standing as Legal Intervenors with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the federal agency charged with protecting public safety. With the services of Washington, D.C. lawyer Diane Curran, the organization raised many issues of safety.
Many of the legal challenges focused on the radioactive wastes produced and stored in vulnerable spent fuel pools and in extremely thin-walled casks at Diablo. During its three decades of operation, 2,000 metric tons of lethal wastes have been produced and remain stored on the site. Diablo Canyon is surrounded by 13 earthquake faults, some of them active and several of them within three miles of the reactors. PG&E’s claims that the plant can withstand any ground motion that might be produced, but that conclusion is strongly contradicted by the findings of MFP expert witness David Jackson, which can be found on the MFP website at https://mothersforpeace.org/
For the CPUC proceeding on plant closure, MFP needed an attorney licensed in the State of California. Their search led them to Venskus and Associates Law Firm. Attorney Sabrina Venskus has extensive experience with the CPUC.
Santa Barbara County Public Works and Explore Ecology will teach students at several Goleta Union School District campuses about composting and reducing the production of methane in our landfills. The program will provide the schools with composting education, tools, and other resources. In this hands-on educational program; students will become composting experts, develop composting skills, make positive environmental impacts, and eventually share knowledge with their classmates, community, and family. Students will ultimately use their experiences from the program to write a “how to” guide for composting in other schools.
Explore Ecology School Garden Program Director Alex Bereda says, “The main goal is to rescue food waste before it gets to the trash, and to compost that food waste into a useful product, which will be used in school gardens to grow more food – closing the loop.”
County Public Works Program Specialist Sam Dickinson says, “Schools generate large amounts of compostable food scraps and plant materials that can be recycled on-site into compost, an excellent fertilizer for school garden plants.”
This program is another example of how Santa Barbara County Public Works is working to reduce the production of methane in landfills by supporting alternatives to throwing food scraps and yard waste into the trash. Through the County’s Backyard Composting Program, the public can purchase composting bins at wholesale prices. Composting bins can be purchased at the South Coast Recycling and Transfer Station, located at 4430 Calle Real in Santa Barbara. Free educational resources and support are available onwww.LessIsMore.org/Compost.
Using a green waste recycling bin is another great way to help return organic materials back to nature and complete the organics loop. Yard waste like grass, leaves, flowers, and other plants that are placed in a green waste recycling bin is collected and chipped into a mulch product distributed locally to residents and farmers. County’s Mulch Program Coordinator Joey Costa says, “The main benefits of mulching is water conservation, weed prevention, and nutrient input.” Get free “load your own” mulch at the South Coast Recycling and Transfer Station in Santa Barbara. For details visit www.LessIsMore.org/Mulch.
For more information on these or other county recycling programs, call 882-3618 or visit the County’s recycling website www.lessismore.org.