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PG&E response: The facts on storing spent fuel 

Amy Hewes' recent commentary, "A pact with the devil" (Feb. 22), makes several false contentions. What New Times readers should know is that the dry cask system used to store spent fuel at Diablo Canyon Power Plant (DCPP) is safe and robust, and that the transportation of spent fuel to a potential offsite storage facility would be a safe, well-managed and highly regulated activity.

At our dry cask facility, spent fuel is safely stored in stainless steel canisters, which are then placed inside thick steel and concrete shielding casks that are bolted into robust pads built on top of bedrock to safely withstand the effects of an earthquake. The system we employ is in use throughout the world, and we selected it several years ago following an in-depth public participation and regulatory oversight process.

If one of the inner canisters were to be transported offsite to a storage facility, it would be placed in a transportation cask that is designed to withstand impacts, puncturing, or other potential hazards that could be faced in travel.

For an example of how robust the current transport cask system is, take a look at an online video of a scale test where a projectile traveling at 600 miles per hour is unable to breach the outer cask that protects the inner, sealed canister.

To be clear, the storage system we employ is safe and nothing is more important to PG&E then ensuring the safety of our employees and surrounding communities.

The question we should be asking is not whether spent fuel can be safely stored onsite (it is) or can the fuel be safely transported to another location (it can). The real question is why should we have to continue storing spent fuel onsite at all?

The fact is that the federal government made a commitment to accept and store spent fuel, and it is important to our customers, and our host communities, that the government fulfills this commitment. We strongly support policies and legislation to achieve this goal, and individuals and groups that are engaged in this issue would serve this region well by offering similar support.

We encourage the community to learn more about this issue and the plant in general. Public tours of DCPP, which include a visit to the dry cask storage facility, are available, and information to schedule a tour can be obtained at

Members of our community should also know that we recently announced the application process for the Diablo Canyon Decommissioning Engagement Panel, which is being created to foster open dialogue between members of the local community and PG&E on topics regarding the decommissioning of the plant, including fuel storage. Please visit the panel website at to obtain more information.

Tom Jones

director of strategic initiatives


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