NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

October 23, 2012

Tierney, Markey invaluable in nuke plant accountability

To the editor:

This is a letter of thanks, encouragement and support for our current alert and responsible Congressmen John F. Tierney and Edward F. Markey. They have been the leaders nationally in holding the NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) accountable to the American public to protect our safety.

As NRC rules stand now, any nuclear power plant can apply 20 years ahead of the expiration date of its current license to have its operating license renewed, so that it can run additional decades after its license expires (the plants were designed to run for 30 to 40 years).

How does anyone know what the condition of the Seabrook nuclear power plant — or any nuclear plant — will be in 2030, which is when the current license expires? In 2030 the plant will have been running for the full 40 years. Currently the corporation that owns the plan, NextEra, has requested a license extension to 2050.

NextEra says the nuclear plant will be fine in 2050. This is like saying that because your car passed inspection in 2012, it still will be fine in 2050. That is not logical or reasonable.

Right now the NRC, due to public pressure, is doing an intensive investigation of the plant due to discovered concrete weakening in many parts of the buildings.

Why would the Seabrook nuclear plant want to be granted an extension to 2050 now? There are three main reasons: 1) The corporation’s goals is to maximize its profits on its investment, which requires keeping the plant running as long as possible; 2) No one knows what condition the plant will be in even in 2030, when the current license expires, and definitely not in 2050; 3) part of the NRC license process requires the plant to show its electricity is still needed, and right now there are many projects existing and in the works — solar, hydro, gas, wind — that very well may make the nuclear plant’s power not needed by 2030.

Reps. Tierney and Markey are sponsoring new legislation (HR 6554, The Nuclear Reactor Safety First Act) that would cut the 20 years-advance license renewal period down to 10 years.

This vital safety issue is yet another solid reason for keeping Reps. John Tierney and Edward Markey in office so that they can continue their vital work protecting us, the public.

Patricia Lang Skibbee

West Newbury

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