SEABROOK — The Nuclear Regulatory Commission turned down an emergency petition from C-10 Research and Education Foundation that aimed to persuade the commission to elevate its concerns about degraded concrete at the Seabrook nuclear power plant.
C-10 is a Newburyport-based group that focuses on monitoring the safety of Seabrook Station. The group has long pushed for closer monitoring of alkali-silica reaction at the plant, known as ASR, a chemical process that creates small cracks in concrete structures.
C-10 filed the emergency petition in February and urged the NRC not to make changes to Seabrook’s operating license until after a hearing before the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, during which C-10 is scheduled to discuss its concerns that the testing, monitoring and analysis of the concrete have been insufficient to prove that it is safe.
The hearing is scheduled for the week of Sept. 23 at Newburyport City Hall.
Earlier this year, the NRC approved an amendment to address the presence of ASR at Seabrook Station and in March it granted the plant’s owner, NextEra Energy, a 20-year license extension through 2050.
After the NRC denied C-10’s petition on Thursday, Natalie Hildt Treat, executive director of C-10, expressed disappointment in the decision. In a press release, she also highlighted the possibility that the plant’s license amendment may be revoked following the hearing.
“Not surprisingly, the commission is choosing regulatory process over science in the public interest,” Treat said in the release. “Still, we are pleased that the commission reiterated that ‘If, after the hearing, the board determines that the license amendment should not have been granted, the amendment can be revoked or conditioned.’”
In an email to The Daily News, NextEra Energy representative Peter Robbins acknowledged C-10’s response and highlighted the role of the plant in the community.
“We look forward to the NRC continuing its process of engaging the public and hearing any and all feedback,” Robbins wrote. “Seabrook Station is an important regional asset that continues to play a vital role in our energy infrastructure by supplying clean, reliable and low-cost electricity to New England.”
In her statement, Treat highlighted a recent speech by ASR expert Victor Saouma, who during a recent public discussion in Newburyport delivered critiques on how concrete degradation is being handled at Seabrook Station.
“Dr. Saouma is one of the world’s leading experts in ASR. He has told us that from what he sees, nobody on NextEra’s team or at the NRC have the necessary expertise in this complex problem, and they simply aren’t doing the right type of testing and analysis to know what’s really happening inside Seabrook’s walls,” she said.
For more on Saouma’s recent discussion on ASR at Seabrook Station, visit https://www.newburyportnews.com/news/local_news/scientist-unsure-of-seabrook-nuclear-plant-s-safety-nextera-says/article_0fa7f6cf-5213-5451-a221-704658172a87.html
Staff writer Jack Shea can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 978-961-3154. Follow him on Twitter @iamjackshea.