SEABROOK – With a contract expiring on Friday, negotiations continued Monday between owners of the nuclear power plant and one employee union, but contingency plans are in place in case talks break down.

Seabrook Station spokesman Alan Griffith said contract negotiations continue this week between NextEra Energy – the main owner of Seabrook Station – and the Utility Workers Union of America, Local 555, comprised of operations, maintenance and radiation protection employees. 

"We continue to work toward a solution (with the union) that is both fair and supports the long-term safe and competitive operation of Seabrook Station," Griffith said Monday.

Neil Sheehan, Region 1 spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said the other union contract between the United Federation of Special Police and Security Officers Local 501 and NextEra Energy expires Dec. 31, and he confirmed talks are ongoing between Local 501 and the plant owners. 

With the Dec. 2 deadline looming and a strike possible, Sheehan said contingency plans are required to be filed with the federal agency. Those plans delineate how the plant owners and the NRC would maintain safety and security at the plant if a strike or lock-out occurred.

"(NextEra) has already sent us a strike contingency plan, and the NRC has approved it," Sheehan said Monday. "And we have a contingency plan of our own in position. Should a strike or lock-out occur, we would increase our inspection presence. An increased number of (NRC) inspectors would be onsite in Seabrook to ensure the nuclear power plant is secure and safely run" during a strike or lock-out of union members.

Sheehan said over the decades, work actions have occurred at nuclear power plants across the country. When plant security is involved, another company can be brought in temporarily to provide security, he said. However, when employees involved with the operation of the plants are involved, contingency plans often call for managers stepping in to perform the duties of striking union employees, he said. 

The NRC licenses operators to run specific power plants, Sheehan said, meaning employees are licensed to work at Seabrook Station only. That eliminates the option of bringing in operators from another nuclear facility to work in Seabrook during the strike, he said. However, supervisors are licensed to operate at Seabrook Station, allowing them to take over for striking employees, if necessary.  

Sheehan said that in November, the security officers' Local 501 members voted to become a new union, and the NRC heard they may choose to affiliate with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Angeljean Chiaramida covers Seabrook and Salisbury for The Daily News. She can be reached at 978-961-3147 or at achiaramida@newburyportnews.com

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