Diablo Canyon Decommissioning Engagement Panel

Public Comments

DateDecember 6, 2021
Decommissioning TopicEnvironmental Impacts
Comment / Suggestion:

Dear Diablo Canyon Decommissioning Engagement Panel members and San Luis Obispo community members,

I am Tyson Chen. I am a Cal Poly student and I am writing as a new resident of San Luis Obispo. Before coming here, I have heard nothing but good things about this town, especially about how beautiful, temperate, and natural the SLO environment is. I traveled here with skepticism and modest hopes. But after living here for several months, this town’s climate and environment resembled nothing short of a paradise. Every major environmental decision should be made with careful consideration to preserve the beauty of this town and its surroundings.
While it’s good that SLO and the rest of California are transitioning to nuclear power and renewable energy, decommissioning Diablo Canyon and other nuclear power plants is not an environmentally feasible idea and could incur large costs to the environment and destabilize the energy supply.

In response to the closure of Diablo Canyon, Gavin Newsom, the then-lieutenant governor of California expresses his concerns over the loss of nuclear power in California and its impact on the environment: “The sudden closure of [nuclear plant] San Onofre... lead to significant greenhouse gas emissions... highlighted my concerns around Diablo” (Cardwell). Natural gas and fossil fuel production must ramp up to cover the lost power from decommissioned nuclear plants, in turn causing a rise in greenhouse gases and air pollution. So far, the air in San Luis Obispo is clean, clear, and rejuvenating. I hope not to witness the same deadly and depressing smog that afflicted my hometown to be seen here in SLO. I do not want to be locked indoors because the air outside is too polluted to breathe, and I dread the possibility that the snow-white morning mist and fog turn into a toxic brown haze.

California’s general strategy to replace the power generated by nuclear plants is to install renewable energy production infrastructure, such as solar cells and windmills. Scientists performed a case study in Sweden projecting the environmental costs of replacing nuclear energy with renewables. The study concluded that such a scenario would increase greenhouse gas emissions (Hong et. al 1). This is not only caused by the increases in natural gas and fossil fuel production, but a substantial amount of greenhouse gases would be released from producing new infrastructure. In fact, nuclear power generates around 570 and 4000 times more energy for the same area of land compared to solar and wind energy respectively (Smil). Right now, Diablo Canyon plant only takes up land for one large structure. Imagine covering the lush hills and the natural, undisturbed land of SLO with solar farms and windmills just to cover up the power generated by one nuclear plant. Such a decision would disrupt the lovely landscape that the Central Coast is best known for and eliminate a source of clean, stable electricity.

As California shuts down Diablo Canyon, the state’s last nuclear plant, I question the wisdom of this pivotal decision. As end users of technology, the way we consume electricity in our everyday lives will remain the same, but what becomes our primary source of energy will affect us all; it will affect the availability and stability of our electricity, and the environmental impacts of the source of power will affect our future environment, our health, and our quality of life. All I ask of the panel and fellow residents is to reconsider nuclear power as a feasible source of energy for the future. Thank you!


Tyson Chen

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