6/22/16 – Future of emergency services from PG&E unknown following Diablo Canyon closure
Publish Date: 6/22/2016
By: Brooke Martell
With the proposal to close the Diablo Canyon Power Plant by 2025, there will be a lot of transitioning within San Luis Obispo County, especially when it comes to the resources the county uses for emergency preparedness.
Diablo Canyon is the last nuclear power plant to close in California, and now, the future of the emergency preparedness resources that Pacific Gas and Electric provides is unknown.
Ron Alsop, San Luis Obispo County’s Emergency Services Manager, says about 82 percent, or $1.4 million, of San Luis Obispo County’s Emergency Services budget is made up by PG&E. Full-time staff members with Emergency Services also dedicate a portion of their work to the plant.
“Of our current year, six of our full-time positions in Office of Emergency Services, 4.5 of those work on the nuclear power plant,” Alsop said.
Among the services PG&E provides funding for is an operations center. The communication hub is used to notify agencies and school districts in the event of an emergency.
In schools and school districts, messages from the operations center are received through a tone box that notifies faculty and staff when an emergency or drill is happening.
“We’ll send a message from a radio system from our emergency operations center. It goes out to all the school districts and the emergency planning districts. Even the schools outside the county,” Alsop said.
There’s also a phone system which connects all the 911 centers in the county.
All systems have and can be used for emergencies outside of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant. However, right now, it’s not known what will stay or what will go when the plant closes in 2025.
“So we’re going to have to, over the next nine years, sit down and pencil out his much of an emergency preparedness organization we can keep,” Alsop said.
As far as the decommissioning of the plant, PG&E spokesman Blair Jones says, over the course of the next nine years, they will be evaluating how long it will take to close down the plant safely.
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