To the editor:
U.S. Reps. John Tierney and Edward Markey have again stood up for public safety at nuclear power plants in the United States (“Seabrook extension may face delay,” Sept. 25). They have filed a bill that would prevent the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) from approving nuclear reactor relicensing more than 10 years before a current license expires. Under current NRC regulations, a nuclear reactor can be approved for relicensing 20 years in advance of its license expiration date. Plant relicensing takes only 25 months on average from application to approval.
In 2010 the owners of the Seabrook reactor applied for a 20-year licensing extension (2030-2050). The plant’s current 40-year operating license allows it to operate until 2030. This extension would allow the reactor to continue to operate before the effects of aging are fully known.
At the Seabrook reactor, the NRC has documented concrete degradation from sea water which is already occurring in the plant’s safety structures. The NRC should require that the plant owners fix the degradation and monitor the effectiveness of the cure before considering relicensing. It is not reasonable to proceed with relicensing so far in advance when significant aging problems have already appeared.
We applaude John Tierney and Edward Markey for their support of public safety in the face of lax NRC standards.
Courtney and Tom MacLachlan