NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

February 22, 2012

Leaders hold off opposing N-plant relicensing

AMESBURY — The Municipal Council doesn't expect to follow in the footsteps of local communities and elected leaders in urging the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to temporarily stop the relicensing of the Seabrook nuclear power plant.

Last week, the Amesbury council got a briefing on both sides of the issues from Bruce Skud of Newburyport, representing the local group No More Fukashima!, and David Barr of the Seabrook power plant.

No More Fukashima! is trying to gain the support of local councils and select boards to fix the concrete degradation problems at the power plant before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission considers extending its license to 2050.

Already, Newbury selectmen and the Newburyport City Council have joined state Sen. Steven A. Baddour, D-Methuen; state Rep. Michael Costello, D-Newburyport; and U.S. Rep. John Tierney, D-Salem, in sending letters to NRC Chairman Greg Jaczko requesting that he stop the relicensing process until a long-term solution has been found to deteriorating concrete discovered in an electrical tunnel.

"There should be no rush to relicense the plant," Skud told the council during a workshop. Skud said he fears the plant will be relicensed before repairs to the concrete degradation are made.

But asking the NRC to halt the relicensing process would stop the process that was designed to locate problems and institute repairs agreed upon by the operator and the NRC.

"They were advocating to stop the process for relicensing," Councilor-at-Large Allen Neale said yesterday. "I want it to continue because through the thorough process, they will unearth all of the issues with the plant."

Neale said NRC inspectors stationed at Seabrook found the concrete degradation.

"They discovered something and wrote a report ... that's exactly what the process is intended to do," Neale said.

Barr said the concrete degradation is in a tunnel 35 feet below grade. Plans to repair the problem are being discussed. One option involved strengthening the portions identified by the NRC by cutting out sections and refilling them.

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