NEWBURYPORT — The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board has pushed back the deadline for its decision on whether or not to uphold the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant’s license renewal.
A four-day hearing about concrete degradation at the Seabrook power plant was held from Sept. 24- to 27 at City Hall Auditorium with the local monitoring group, C-10, calling for the revocation of the plant’s recent license renewal.
The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board’s decision was originally supposed to be issued within 90 days of the hearing. But because the 90-day window will close before recently-issued deadlines for the filing of additional testimony, the NRC now expects the board will issue its initial decision by April 9.
The hearing was held by the Nuclear Regulatory’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board in order to allow C-10 to present a contention on the plant’s concrete monitoring program.
Concrete degradation was discovered at the plant in 2010. It results from an alkali-silica reaction, or ASR, a chemical process that causes small cracks.
The contention presented during the hearing by C-10 was: “The large-scale test program, undertaken for NextEra (Energy) at the Ferguson Structural Engineering Laboratory, has yielded data that are not representative of the progression of ASR at Seabrook. As a result, the proposed monitoring, acceptance criteria and inspection intervals are not adequate.”
Seabrook Station was recently granted a 20-year license extension by the NRC through 2050. Earlier this year, the NRC approved an amendment to address the concrete degradation caused by ASR.
In an email to The Daily News, Natalie Hildt-Treat, executive director for C-10, said she believes the delay will be beneficial to the board’s decision-making process.
“C-10 views this as a favorable development, and believes it demonstrates the level of time and care that the judges are affording their decision relative to NextEra’s handling of the degraded concrete at the Seabrook nuclear reactor,” said Hildt-Treat.
Staff writer Jack Shea covers Newburyport City Hall. He can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 978-961-3154. Follow him on Twitter @iamjackshea.