UPDATE 1-NRC delays renewal process for PG&E Calif. reactors

Wed Jun 1, 2011 1:54pm EDT

 * Delay to allow PG&E to conduct seismic study
 * PG&E started seismic study prior to Fukushima accident
 * Diablo reactor licenses expire in 2024 and 2025
 (Updates comment from NRC)
 NEW YORK, June 1 (Reuters) - U.S. nuclear regulators agreed
to delay the processing of PG&E Corp's (PCG.N) request to
extend the licenses of its Diablo Canyon nuclear power reactors
in California to give the company more time to conduct a
seismic study.
 PG&E filed with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
(NRC) for a 20-year renewal of the licenses for the two
reactors at Diablo Canyon in November 2009. The original
40-year operating licenses expire in 2024 and 2025.
 PG&E was under pressure by California energy regulators and
citizen and environmental groups to produce the seismic study
before an earthquake and tsunami destroyed the Fukushima
nuclear plant in Japan in early March. That pressure increased
after the Japanese nuclear accident.
 On April 10, 2011, PG&E asked the NRC to delay taking final
action on the license renewal request to give the company more
time to complete a three dimensional seismic study of offshore
faults. PG&E told the NRC it expects to finish the study by
December 2015.
 On May 31, 2011, the NRC agreed to scale back its renewal
review. But NRC spokesman Victor Dricks told Reuters the NRC
staff had already completed work on the Safety Evaluation
Report (SER) and would issue the report soon.
 "The plan is to issue the safety report and supplement it
if necessary based on any additional information we may receive
from PG&E," Dricks said.
 SAFETY & ENVIRONMENT
 The NRC uses the renewal process to determine how an
operator will manage the aging of a reactor. It is a two-step
process, requiring safety and environmental reviews.
 <^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
 FACTBOX-U.S. nuclear units seeking license renewal   
[ID:nN01174392]
 ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>
 The issuance of the safety report will conclude the NRC's
safety review unless they need to update the report.
 The NRC staff did expect to issue its environmental report,
called the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS),
in January 2012. Dricks said there was now no date set for the
issuance of the environmental report.
 "It does not make sense to expend full staff resources on a
review that cannot be processed until the future when we expect
to get significant additional information," Dricks said.
 Dricks could not say when the Atomic Safety and Licensing
Board (ASLB), which is an independent judicial arm of the NRC,
would hold a hearing on the four contentions already admitted
into the proceeding against the relicensing.
 Separately, the owners of the other nuclear power plant in
California, San Onofre, are also conducting a seismic study.
 Southern California Edison (SCE), a unit of Edison
International (EIX.N) of Rosemead, California, which has not
yet filed to renew the two reactor licenses at San Onofre,
planned to conduct the study before the Fukushima accident.
 After Fukushima, SCE filed in April with California state
regulators to boost the amount it wants to recover from rate
payers for the study to $64 million from a projected $21
million before the Japanese accident. [ID:nN12203465]
 The licenses for both reactors at San Onofre expire in
2022. San Onofre is located in San Clemente about 60 miles
southeast of Los Angeles. It is owned by SCE (78.21 percent),
Sempra Energy's (SRE.N) San Diego Gas & Electric (20 percent)
and the City of Riverside (1.79 percent).
 Since 2000 when the NRC renewed its first license, the
nuclear regulator has renewed 66 of the 104 operating reactors
in the United States.
-----------------------------------------------------------   
PLANT BACKGROUND/TIMELINE      
STATE:       California      
COUNTY:      San Luis Obispo County      
TOWN:        Avila Beach about 183 miles (294 km) northwest   
             of Los Angeles      
OWNER(S):    PG&E
OPERATOR(S): PG&E      
CAPACITY:    2,240 MW      
UNIT(S):     1 - 1,122 MW Westinghouse pressurized water      
             reactor 
          2 - 1,118 MW Westinghouse pressurized water      
             reactor 
FUEL:        Nuclear      
COST:        $11.556 billion in 2007 U.S. dollars
DISPATCH:    Baseload      
TIMELINE:      
1968 -       Start of plant construction      
1985 -       Unit 1 enters commercial service      
1986 -       Unit 2 enters commercial service      
Nov 2009 -   PG&E seeks to renew original 40-year operating   
             licenses for 20 years
Dec 2015 -   PG&E to provide NRC with seismic data to allow the
             renewal process to continue
2024 -       Unit 1 license to expire unless renewed      
2025 -       Unit 2 license to expire unless renewed   
 (Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Alden Bentley)