NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

June 13, 2012

Report: 7 items lacking at Seabrook plant

SEABROOK — The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a report on NextEra Energy Seabrook nuclear power plant's application to extend its operating license 20 years, finding that if seven still outstanding issues are fixed, the power plant will have met the requirements needed for a new license.

The 770-page report is a technical review of safety concerns at Seabrook Station required in the commission's lengthy process of reviewing licensing at the nation's nuclear power plants. The safety evaluation report is one of two license-related reviews; the second review is a environmental review, which has not yet been issued.

NextEra Energy Seabrook is trying to have its operating licence extended from 2030 to 2050.

According to NRC Region 1 spokesman Neil Sheehan, the focus of the license renewal process is on the aging management programs for key safety systems, structures and components.

"We seek assurance that the systems, structures and components will be able to continue to safely perform their functions for an additional 20 years of operation," he said. "Such plans may include replacement of a component, such as a pump or electrical system, at some point during the license renewal period."

For nearly all the systems reviewed, commission staff concluded that Seabrook Station demonstrated that it met the NRC's requirements. However, seven issues remain open and must be resolved before the NRC can make a final determination on its safety evaluation, according to the letter sent to Seabrook Station by Brian Holian of the license renewal division of the NRC.

As expected, one of the seven open items relates to concrete degradation found in some areas of Seabrook Station's subterranean walls, due to alkali-silica reaction within the concrete. ASR is more commonly found in transportation structures like bridges and roads, where it has been successfully mitigated. But Seabrook Station is the first nuclear power plant to discover and report its presence within parts of the plant's structure.

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