SEABROOK — It’s been the major taxpayer in town for more than two decades, and to honor the 25th anniversary of its opening, town officials put a picture of the NextEra Energy Seabrook nuclear power plant on the cover of the 2015 town report.
Selectmen chose their favorite cover mock-up at yesterday’s meeting, showing an aerial view of what’s known in town as “Seabrook Station,” framed in light beige, with its logo beneath the picture.
In the past, the covers of the annual town reports have depicted water or landscapes, local wildlife, town buildings and even the town seal. In reverence for the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001, that year’s cover held a picture of the United States and New Hampshire flags, with the motto “United We Stand” under it.
Putting a local business on the front is not a common tradition in town, but at a meeting in November, selectmen unanimously voted to commemorate the plant’s 25th anniversary in town. They also sent a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission stating their full support of the nuclear power plant, lauding it as “one of this country’s safest and best-run nuclear power plants” and a “powerful economic engine in our region.”
According to NextEra Energy Seabrook spokesman Alan Griffith, the gesture means a lot.
“We’re grateful that the town of Seabrook recognizes how beneficial and irreplaceable Seabrook Station has become to the region since we began commercial operations in 1990,” Griffith said. “Our employees take great pride in not only generating safe, clean, emissions-free electricity to 1.4 million homes and businesses, but being a good neighbor and always looking at ways to help improve the quality of life in our communities.”
The town’s biggest taxpayer, Seabrook Station contributed about $15.5 million in property taxes last year. Even before the plant was completed on the site of a former landfill, the revenue it brought helped Seabrook build or expand pretty much all of its town buildings, including Town Hall, the police and fire stations, the community/recreation center, the new library and the school. It’s also the reason Seabrook has such extensive town services, while maintaining a reasonable tax rate, when compared to some other Granite State communities.
The cover and endorsement by Seabrook come at a time when, because of a concrete degradation problem known as alkali-silica reaction, the plant is taking serious heat from anti-nuclear groups and individuals in the region, as well as officials from some Massachusetts cities and towns. Although the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has said regularly that the plant is safe and is being closely monitored by the agency, some in Massachusetts have called for its closing.
According to Seabrook selectmen, however, they have “full confidence” the company is taking every step to safely and effectively manage the ASR condition in the short and long term.
According to Deputy Town Manager Kelly O’Connor, the Town Report is expected to be available to the public by March 1.