SEABROOK – For the second time, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board has pushed back the deadline until July 10 for its decision on whether to uphold the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant’s license renewal.
When asked about whether the deadline was changed due to coronavirus, NRC representative Diane Scenci said “the board needed more time to complete its work on the decision.”
A four-day hearing about concrete degradation at the Seabrook power plant was held from Sept. 24 to 27 at City Hall Auditorium in Newburyport 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, and was previously extended until an April 9 deadline.
The hearing was held by the NRC’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board to allow C-10 to present a contention on the plant’s concrete monitoring program.
In an email to The Daily News, Natalie Hildt Treat, executive director for C-10, attributed the delay to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Given the unprecedented times we are all experiencing with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is somewhat understandable that this ruling has been delayed, but we were certainly looking forward to a resolution in this case,” said Treat in the email.
“It’s a tenuous time, with many people, including the NRC’s resident inspectors at Seabrook Station, working remotely with a reduced onsite presence,” Treat added. “We at C-10 will rest a little easier when this public health crisis has passed, when staffing at Seabrook and the NRC are back to normal, and when the board issues its ruling on Seabrook’s handling of the degraded concrete meant to protect the public from radiation exposure.”
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.”
Last year, Seabrook Station was granted a 20-year license extension by the NRC through 2050. Also last year, the NRC approved an amendment to address the concrete degradation caused by ASR. The amendment is being challenged by C-10.
For more information on C-10, visit www.c-10.org