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CPUC Seeks Comment on Applicants for Diablo Canyon Independent Safety Committee – DEADLINE: April 9, 2014

Invitation for Public Comment on


Mr. Paul Blanch, Mr. Charles Casto, Dr. Per Peterson, and Dr. Michael Quinn


As Candidates for Appointment to the Diablo Canyon Independent Safety Committee

Term: July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2017


On January 23, 2014, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) announced it was seeking applications from qualified persons to become a nominee to fill a vacancy on the Diablo Canyon Independent Safety Committee (Committee) for a three-year term beginning July 1, 2014.


The Committee consists of three members, one each appointed by the Governor, the California Attorney General, and the Chair of the California Energy Commission.  The Committee assesses the safety of the operations of Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant and has authority to review quarterly reports and conduct on-site inspections.  The Committee reports its observations and recommendations to PG&E annually; the Committee then transmits its report, along with PG&E’s response, to the Governor, the California Attorney General, the California Energy Commission, and the CPUC. 


According to the procedures adopted by the Commission in Decision 07-01-028, the President of the CPUC selects not more than three qualified candidates responding to the request for applications, plus the incumbent member whose term is expiring, if the incumbent consents to reappointment.  The CPUC will issue a resolution ratifying the President’s selection of candidates for appointment. The Governor shall appoint the Committee member for the term beginning on July 1, 2014 from the list of candidates selected by the President of the CPUC.


An application was received by Mr. Paul Blanch, Mr. Charles Casto, and Dr. Michael Quinn in response to the CPUC’s January 23, 2014 announcement.  The incumbent member whose term is expiring, Dr. Per Peterson informed the CPUC’s Energy Division that he consents to reappointment for a new three-year term beginning July 1, 2014.  The qualifications of Mr. Blanch, Mr. Casto, Dr. Quinn, and Dr. Peterson are summarized below.


The CPUC welcomes public comments on the qualifications of Mr. Blanch, Mr. Casto, Dr. Quinn, and Dr. Peterson.  Please e-mail comments to or write to


Don Lafrenz

Energy Division, California Public Utilities Commission

505 Van Ness Avenue

San Francisco, CA 94102


Comments must be received by April 9, 2014.


Mr. Paul Blanch


Mr. Blanch is a professional energy consultant.  Since 2004 he has served as an expert witness in nuclear relicensing cases for the Indian Point power plant in New York on behalf of the State of New York, the Seabrook power plant in New Hampshire for various public interest groups, and the Vermont Yankee power plant for the New England Coalition.  From 2003 to 2006 he was an expert witness for plaintiffs in Finestone vs. Florida Power and Light and conducted research on the quality and quantity of unmonitored releases from the St. Lucie nuclear plant.


From 1997 to 2002 Mr. Blanch worked as a consultant to nuclear plant operators to evaluate and implement safety programs.  In 2001 and 2002 he reported to the Chief Nuclear Officer at Indian Point Unit 2 and assisted in evaluating the plant’s Employee Concerns Program (ECP), assessing its Safety Conscious Work Environment Program (SCWEP), and investigating safety issues.  In 2000 and 2001 he reported to the President of the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company where he re-established a SCWEP, evaluated and recommended improvements to the ECP, conducted independent investigations of allegations received at the plant and referred by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and facilitated and resolved differences between employees and management.


From 1997 to 2001 Mr. Blanch reported to the President of Northeast Nuclear Energy Company and assisted in the recovery of the three Millstone Units in Connecticut that had been shut down due to safety problems.   He established a SCWEP and facilitated and resolved differences between employees and management.  He also assisted with regulatory compliance and corporate communication efforts by providing information to the NRC and the public about the plant recovery and the SCWEP.  In addition, Mr. Blanch made presentations to public interest groups, State of Connecticut oversight organizations and the NRC on the work environment at Millstone and the status of corrective actions.  He also conducted presentations to the ECP Forum on how management should address whistleblower issues, and to the NRC on how to resolve high profile whistleblower situations.


From 1995 to 1998 Mr. Blanch was an expert witness for plaintiffs in proceedings related to the 1979 Three Mile Island accident.  He conducted research to determine the quality and quantity of releases from the plant as part of this work.


From 1993 to 1997 Mr. Blanch was a consultant to the NRC and other clients.  In that capacity he worked with the NRC on modifications to Federal Regulations for the protection of individuals who identify safety issues at nuclear facilities.  He also advised clients on NRC and the U.S. Department of Labor regulations governing the protection of whistleblowers.


From 1972 to 1993 Mr. Blanch was the Supervisor of Electrical Engineering responsible for programs on plant reliability and compliance with NRC regulations.  He supervised safety and compliance during the design and construction of the Millstone Units 2 and 3.


Mr. Blanch was one of the three qualified candidates selected by the California Public Utilities Commission for consideration by the California Governor for appointment to the Diablo Canyon Independent Safety Committee (Committee) for the term beginning July 1, 2008 (see CPUC Resolution E-4141 dated January 10, 2008).  He was one of two qualified candidates selected by the CPUC for consideration by the California Attorney General for appointment to the Committee for the term beginning July 1, 2013 (see CPUC Resolution E-4588 dated June 27, 2013).


Mr. Blanch has a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Hartford.  He also attended the U.S. Navy Submarine School, Nuclear Power School, and Electronics Technician School.


Mr. Charles Casto


Mr. Casto is currently President and Independent Safety Advisor, of Casto Consulting Group LLC.  From 1985 until 2013 Mr. Casto worked at the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) where he held positions as Regional Administrator for Region III, Deputy Regional Administrator for Region IV, and Deputy Regional Administrator for Construction, Region II.   He also held the positions of Division Director, Branch Chief, and Operator Licensing Examiner and Section Chief while at the NRC.


As the NRC Regional Administrator, Mr. Casto was responsible for senior executives, managers, and staff in Region III.  He implemented the NRC’s inspection, enforcement, allegations, and performance assessment programs for 23 nuclear power plants and approximately 1500 nuclear materials licensees.  Mr. Casto led the Construction Inspection Program in Region II.


In March 2011, Mr. Casto was selected by the Chairman of the NRC to lead a team of U.S. government representatives to help Japan respond to and recover from the nuclear accident at Fukushima.  He participated in an international Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation mission to help establish criteria to restart shutdown nuclear plants in Japan.  He also was a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) review team that assessed the performance of the Slovenian Nuclear Regulatory Agency, and participated in an IAEA mission to Hungary in 2003 where 32 spent fuel assemblies were accidently destroyed at the PAKS plant.


In 1984 and 1985 Mr. Casto worked for Resource Technical Services as an NRC certified Senior Reactor Operator Instructor.  From 1978 to 1985 he worked for the Tennessee Valley Authority as an NRC licensed Reactor Operator and Instructor at the Browns Ferry plant, and as a Construction Manager at Sequoyah Unit 2.  From 1973 to 1978 Mr. Casto was in the U.S. Air Force and worked in the nuclear weapons program and on explosive ordinance disposal.


Mr. Casto has a Masters of Public Administration degree from the University of Georgia, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Nuclear Technology from the State University of New York, Albany.  He is currently working on a Doctorate in Business at Kennesaw State University and is expected to complete that degree in May 2014.  


Dr. Per Peterson (Incumbent)


Dr. Peterson is a member of the Diablo Canyon Independent Safety Committee (Committee).  He was appointed to the Committee by the California Attorney General to an initial three year term from 2004 to 2007, and was reappointed for second and third terms, from 2008 to 2011, and from 2011 to 2014, by the Governor of California.


Dr. Peterson is a professor in the Department of Nuclear Engineering at the University of California at Berkeley where he has taught courses related to nuclear reactor safety and design.  His research and publications have covered topics in nuclear fusion energy, fission reactor design and safety analysis, nuclear waste management and areas of heat transfer and fluid mechanics that relate to these applications.


Dr. Peterson is also a Mechanical Engineering faculty member in the Accelerator and Fusion Research Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.  He has served as the Chair of the Nuclear Engineering Department (2000 to 2005, and 2009 to 2012), and Chair of the Energy and Resource Group (1998 to 2000) at U.C. Berkeley.  Prior to beginning graduate studies Dr. Peterson worked as an engineer for Bechtel National Inc. on the design of systems for processing high-level nuclear waste. 


Dr. Peterson has served on advisory panels for the federal government, national laboratories, and national academies on topics related to nuclear technologies, and on expert panels at academic conferences and workshops.  This includes being a member of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future from 2010 to 2012 which provided recommendations to the Obama Administration, Congress, and the U.S. Department of Energy on managing U.S. used fuel and high level wastes.  He currently chairs the Radiation Safety Committee for U.C. Berkeley which is regulated by the California Department of Public Health and is responsible for reviewing all authorizations for radioactive materials and radiation producing machines used in research on the Berkeley campus.  During the 2011 Fukushima accident Dr. Peterson served as a senior scientific advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Energy.


Dr. Peterson has PhD and Master of Science degrees in Mechanical Engineering from U.C. Berkeley, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Nevada, Reno.  He is a registered Mechanical Engineer in the State of California.

Dr. Michael Quinn


Dr. Quinn has been a consultant to the nuclear industry in the United States and Canada and to the U.S. government since 1999.  This work includes developing and delivering root cause evaluation training to staff of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  He has also assessed the corrective action program and is teaching causal analysis for Chicago Bridge and Iron which is fabricating building modules for nuclear plants in South Carolina (VC Summer Plant) and Georgia (Plant Vogtle).  Dr. Quinn has also provided consulting services for several other clients on nuclear safety as described below. 


From 2011 to 2013 Dr. Quinn led a team in assessing significant issues during nuclear refueling operations at 5 nuclear power units (Ginna, Oyster Creek, Millstone Station, Point Beach, and Arkansas Nuclear One) for Westinghouse/PaR Nuclear, Inc.  He also led a collective significance team in evaluating the loss of offsite power at the Wolf Creek Nuclear Station, and led the root cause team in the design phase for the U.S. Advanced Pressurized Water Reactor project at the North Anna 3 plant for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. 


From 2009 to 2011 Dr. Quinn managed a team charged with developing and implementing corrective actions to address performance that resulted in radiation contamination of 400 workers at the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station in Ontario Canada.  He also provided training and consulting to Atomic Energy Canada Limited on corrective action, root cause, and nuclear safety in connection with a reactor rebuild project.  Additionally, Dr. Quinn assessed the root cause process within the corrective action program evaluation for the relicensing of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station.


Prior to working as a consultant Dr. Quinn held various positions at nuclear power facilities.  From 1996 to 1999 he was Project Manager assigned to the Millstone Nuclear Power Station recovery team where he led groups in developing, implementing, and evaluating programs to establish a nuclear safety culture.  In 1994 and 1995 Dr. Quinn was Manager of Nuclear Planning and Operational Standards for Northeast Nuclear Energy Company where he planned and developed initiatives for more effective nuclear operational performance for five nuclear units at three sites.  From 1975 to 1993 he worked at the Connecticut Yankee Haddam Neck Nuclear station, and held positions as Radio-Chemist, Manager of Chemistry and Radiochemistry, Manager of Offsite Radiation Dose Consequence, Refueling and Maintenance Outage Manager, Director of Station Emergency Operations, and Director of  Station Services.


Dr. Quinn has a Doctorate in Organizational Management Systems, and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of New Haven, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from Charter Oak College.  He previously held a Senior Reactor Operator License.




Last Modified: 3/24/2014

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