We don’t give up easily, especially when it comes to the incredibly dangerous Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant near San Luis Obispo. The World Business Academy has decided to appeal the ruling against our lawsuit seeking an Environmental Impact Report to address the significant environmental and human health dangers that would result from continued operation of this aging and hazardous plant.
Here’s the background in a nutshell: The World Business Academy sued last year after the State Lands Commission in June 2016 renewed land leases that will allow Diablo Canyon to continue operating through 2025. We contend that the State Lands Commission did not have the legal authority to exempt Diablo Canyon from environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and that its action in doing so was arbitrary and capricious. Our lawsuit went to trial in July before Judge Mary H. Strobel, who ruled against us after a short non-jury trial in Los Angeles Superior Court, with a remarkably circuitous 23-page ruling she wrote before any testimony was heard.
We don’t believe the judge has the authority to simply ignore the clear requirements of California environmental protection laws. No trial judge has the authority to choose to eviscerate the environmental protections California residents demand and are entitled to receive. But that’s exactly what this judge did.
No EIR has ever been prepared for Diablo Canyon, and that’s hard to believe. Studies by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission show that Diablo Canyon is the third most “embrittled” nuclear plant in America, and that by 2033 it will be a danger to operate. Studies cited in the lawsuit show increasing rates of cancer and infant mortality in communities around the plant.
We can’t abandon our lawsuit now. Substantial harm could befall adjacent communities and the marine ecosystem during the nine-year interval leading up to the plant’s proposed closure in 2025. The court should order the commission to void the new lease allowing Diablo Canyon to operate until 2025 and to proceed immediately to prepare an Environmental Impact Report, as required under CEQA, to formally review these issues.
Under California statutory and case law, the existence of any “unusual circumstances” automatically requires an environmental review under CEQA. In the case of Diablo Canyon, unusual circumstances include: extraordinary seismic risk; adverse health impacts from continuing emissions of radioactive isotopes; devastating impacts on marine life; potential adverse impacts from a terrorist attack; leakage and buildup of radioactive waste; and Diablo Canyon’s status as the sole remaining nuclear power plant in the State of California.
Why an EIR has never been prepared on this aging nuclear power plant is beyond us. We will continue to fight in court for the safety of our state’s residents and against a nuclear power plant that should no longer be operating at all.