PG&E Fills Decommissioning Panel Seats

Diablo Canyon's man made harbor

Written by Neil Farrell

Neil has been a journalist covering the Estero Bay Area for over 27 years. He’s won numerous journalism awards in several different categories over his career.

April 8, 2021

Above, Diablo Canyon’s man made harbor is part of the power plant’s seawater cooling intake system and one of numerous features that could become part of the property’s future uses. All photos by Neil Farrell.

Pacific Gas and Electric has filled empty seats on its Diablo Canyon Decommissioning Engagement Panel, picking a San Luis Obispo oil-man and a recently resigned Grover Beach councilwoman to fill out the citizen’s advisory panel.

William “Bill” Almas of SLO and Mariam Shah of Grover Beach were selected out of some 65 applicants to fill the seats previously held by Lauren Brown and Alex Karlin, according to a news release from PG&E spokeswoman, Carina Corral.
Almas and Shah will begin their terms in May. Current panel members, David Baldwin and Dena Bellman were reappointed to the board.

The decommissioning panel “provides community input to PG&E as the company prepares a site-specific plan for the future decommissioning of Diablo Canyon Power Plant,” Corral said.

Coastal bluff and shoreline

Some of the rocky shoreline and an offshore rock, form the backdrop for cattle grazing on a Coastal bluff.

Shah is a former 2-term Grover Beach City Councilwoman who resigned because her family is moving to Arroyo Grande. She has served on the executive committees of the Homeless Services Oversight Committee, the Air Pollution Control District and the California League of Cities. She also sits on the board of the Grover Beach Library, the Five Cities Homeless Coalition and has been active with the Grover Heights PTA for several years, including three years as president.

Almas was a senior real estate manager for Chevron retiring in 2015. He held various positions with Chevron and Unocal including environmental and regulatory manager, manager of government affairs, area manager and environmental and regulatory manager for Molycorp, a subsidiary of Unocal.
He was the lead for property purchases and settlements for Unocal’s Avila Beach oil spill remediation and managed the preparation of the San Luis Obispo Chevron Tank Farm Environmental Impact Report and various property sales.

The Decommissioning Panel members are now: Almas of SLO; Shah of Grover; Baldwin of Atascadero; Bellman of Pismo Beach; Dr. Timothy Auran of Avila Beach and Sherri Danoff of Avila Beach; Scott Lathrop of SLO; Patrick Lemieux of Morro Bay; Charlene Rosales and Kara Woodruff of SLO; Linda Seeley of Los Osos; Chuck Anders (facilitator); Trevor Keith SLO County ex-officio; and, Maureen Zawalick of PG&E.

Corral said the company was impressed with the number and quality of applicants.
Anders, the panel’s facilitator, said, “On behalf of the panel, we sincerely appreciate the time and effort put forth by each candidate to apply, and we’re thrilled that so many experienced and talented community leaders offered to be a part of this important process.

“We welcome these new members and feel confident the diverse composition of the panel will enable the group to capture the community’s collective vision related to the future decommissioning of Diablo Canyon.”

The Diablo Canyon Decommissioning Engagement Panel “was created to foster open and frequent dialogue between members of the local community and PG&E on matters related to DCPP decommissioning,” Corral said. “Panelists are local community members from across San Luis Obispo County who were selected to broadly represent diverse community viewpoints. The Panel meets periodically on matters related to DCPP decommissioning and the future use of DCPP lands and facilities.”

PG&E several years ago announced that it was ending its attempts to get new licenses to operate the two nuclear reactors at Diablo Canyon, which are slated to expire in 2024 and 2025.

Instead the company said it would focus on renewable energy sources and would be decommissioning and eventually removing the plant from the 12,000-acre Point Buchon property.

That effort alone is expected to take decades and cost several billion dollars.

The panel, and indeed most people’s interests lie with what the property’s future will hold. The immense property is bigger than Montaña de Oro State Park, which lies north of and adjacent to the Diablo Canyon property.

Potential reuses that have been suggested include a housing subdivision in Wild Cherry Canyon, which is just west of Avila Beach; adding it to the State Park’s system; and returning it to the Chumash, who claim that their ancestors lived on the property for thousands of years.

The property has numerous Native American archaeological sites, as well as coastal bluffs and cow pastures, sandy beaches and pristine oak woodlands.

In the developed area of the actual plant, there is a huge desalination plant, the two 190-foot containment domes, the brown power plant building, a huge office complex, a marine lab, fire station and other large reusable buildings and even a protected harbor. It also has numerous dry cask storage units, enormous structures where used fuel rods are stored.

These photos were taken during an August 2018 tour of the Diablo Canyon lands and show some of the amazing vistas just along the main road up the coastline on the “Pecho Coast” and Point Buchon.

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