NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

June 5, 2014

ASR study inadequate

To the editor:

Recently, the Amesbury Municipal Council voted unanimously to express its concern to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) about public safety at the Seabrook plant. The council is concerned because alkali-silica reaction (ASR) is degrading the plant’s concrete foundation. The council joins six other area towns that have written similar letters.

ASR has been found in 131 locations throughout the plant’s foundation, including safety-critical structures. The Seabrook plant is now in uncharted waters because it is the only nuclear plant in the U.S. where ASR has been identified. There is no known generally accepted technology for stopping or remedying the progression of ASR.

The plant’s owners have hired researchers at the University of Texas to study and make recommendations concerning the ASR at Seabrook. However, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the C-10 Research & Education Foundation have found the study approach to be fundamentally inadequate. Instead of testing core samples from actual concrete structures at the plant, the researchers are testing “replica” samples. These samples are supposed to closely resemble the specific concrete used at Seabrook. But, the behavior of concrete depends on the specific chemical composition of the materials in it. Scientists believe that replica sample results will not be as reliable as results would be from testing the concrete that was actually used to build the plant.

Concrete degradation presents a serious risk to all of us. In 2012, a 4.0 earthquake occurred only 60 miles from Seabrook. We do not like to think what could happen if an earthquake were stronger or closer.

ASR poses a significant threat to public safety including our lives, our property and our livelihoods. That is why we are deeply grateful to the council for urging the NRC to make safety its top priority in decision-making at the Seabrook plant.

Joanna Hammond

Amesbury

Bruce Skud

Newburyport

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