Over the past two years, Dr. Brown has posed many key questions to the NRC in their Seabrook investigation. The NRC has responded to his questions, often agreed with Dr. Brown’s commentaries, and held a conference call with him to investigate ASR issues in more detail. Among the concerns that Dr. Brown has raised is the fact that there is presently no generally accepted technology to mitigate the effects of ASR within an existing concrete structure. UCS’s and C-10’s most recent commentary and analysis provided to the NRC can be found here — http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/nuclear_power/Seabrook-Concrete-Commissioner-letter.pdf.
The discovery of ASR at Seabrook was the first time it was documented in the U.S. nuclear fleet. As a result, the NRC is in unchartered waters and does not have the in-house technical expertise or regulatory track record necessary to make informed decisions to best protect the public.
Since 2009, Seabrook has been operating outside of its current license and no tests or models currently exist to enable the nuclear industry or the NRC to make predictions concerning the progression of ASR and the future structural impacts. Indeed, a summer 2013 report prepared by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Codes and Standards for Repair of Nuclear Plant Concrete Structures: Recommendations for Future Development, uses the example of ASR at Seabrook to conclude that while research has been done, “it has not reached a level that would allow the repair and prediction of service life. A combination of measurement techniques and models is necessary to be able to monitor the progression of any ASR and to predict the remaining service life before and after any repair. Protocols for the selection of repair materials and monitoring also need to be developed.”