NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

September 30, 2013

In response to misinformation on N-plant


Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

As long-time employees of NextEra Energy Seabrook Station, we are used to a small, but vocal minority regularly expressing their blanket opposition to nuclear power here in New England. Yet increasingly, we have observed that these individuals’ claims creatively knit together grossly misinterpreted information rather than presenting an honest discussion of the true facts. This was the case in a recent letter (”Will the Seabrook plant be next? Sept. 19).

Like the authors of the letter, we live here in the community; so do our children, family members and friends. As such, our concern is not in advancing a political agenda, but rather, ensuring that Seabrook continues to remain a safe, reliable, clean generator of affordable energy for our region. To this end, we take strong exception with the wild, fanciful claims continuously presented by Mr. Skud and Ms. Hammond in a variety of forums. As professionals who have dedicated our entire careers to safety, we are compelled to correct the record.

First, there are no issues with the plant’s steam generator tubes. In fact, of the 22,504 tubes, only two were found to be somewhat degraded during routine maintenance. Even though this did not present a safety issue, the tubes were replaced, and, in the interest of full transparency, we notified our regulator. In short, there is nothing to hide and no safety issue; if there were, we would be the first to raise it.

Second, it is true that during the license renewal inspection process our engineers discovered alkali-silica reaction, or ASR, in an electrical tunnel. While Mr. Skud and Ms. Hammond often mention this condition, what they fail to disclose is the fact that ASR is present in nearly every bridge and concrete structure in the country and that independent engineering studies confirm this condition does not impact the safety of Seabrook in any way. Today, in fact, Seabrook’s concrete structures are stronger than required by federal regulation. This was recently re-confirmed independently by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Third, the authors suggest moving the station’s used fuel from “wet” to “dry” storage; this is already happening. Since 2008, Seabrook has maintained a dry storage facility onsite. And while every safety, engineering and environmental study to date demonstrates that this is a perfectly acceptable solution, we continue to believe that the best approach is to move this used fuel to a secure central repository. In fact, we applaud the recent federal court ruling ordering the restart of the licensing process for the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada.

Make no mistake, we share many of the same goals as Mr. Skud and Ms. Hammond. We want a cleaner environment for our children; we want reliable electricity and affordable energy bills; and, above all, we demand safety. Where we differ, however, is that we hope to further a dialogue that is based on dispassionate facts, not politics.

Ron Thurlow

Safety manager

Brian Brown

Structural engineering supervisor

Kathy Mahoney

Reactor engineering

NextEra Energy Seabrook Station