NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

February 12, 2014

No one knows yet how safe Seabrook's N-plant is

In a Jan. 29 Viewpoint opinion piece published in The Daily News, Ron Thurlow and Dr. David Gress made the unsubstantiated claim that the “Seabrook Station is absolutely safe” and sought to malign those who have expressed public safety concerns about the plant’s concrete degradation due to ASR (alkali silica reaction).

The reality is that neither the plant’s operator, NextEra, nor the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) have provided the public with solid information that would positively reassure the public that the plant is safe and will be for the next 40 years. Indeed, there are many serious concerns and unanswered questions about the extent and severity of the ASR problem, the proposed testing and evaluation, and prospects for a scientifically reliable management and mitigation plan.

Two years ago, the Newburyport-based C-10 Research and Education Foundation and the Union of Concerned Scientists together hired a nationally recognized ASR expert, Dr. Paul Brown, a professor at Penn State University, to provide independent expert analysis about Seabrook’s ASR condition. Neither organization is calling for the shutdown of the plant, although we both question the wisdom of proceeding with the plant’s relicensing given the unresolved safety concerns. Likewise, neither organization is saying the plant is currently unsafe, but rather that we do not believe there is enough information to make the claim Thurlow and Gress have made.

Our primary concern is public safety. The public will be best served if the NRC and NextEra conduct an exhaustive, transparent investigation of the ASR problem, provide the information for an independent review and not rush to judgment or move forward with the plant’s relicensing application until this is completed. A comprehensive inspection of the containment building or spent fuel pool at Seabrook has not been done to verify the extent of ASR.

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