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Seabrook Concrete Degradation Raises Concerns

Citizens' Group Files Petition over Concrete Degradation at Seabrook Nuclear Station

A citizens’ group has filed an emergency petition asking the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to postpone relicensing of the Seabrook Nuclear Power Station until the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board can review concrete degradation problems at the plant.

Joe Donoghue, NRC acting director for relicensing, said at a Feb. 13 meeting that the NRC is moving forward with the license renewal for Seabrook Station through 2050 after finding no safety issues.

But Victor Saouma, a civil engineering professor at the University of Colorado and internationally recognized expert on alkali silica reaction, has reviewed the results of multi-year testing at the University of Texas lab and said in C-10’s petition that NextEra’s and the NRC staff’s conclusions “are not well-founded.”  Saouma states that tests run at the lab were “substandard and inadequate.”

Federal ruling due in January


A federal administrative hearing with a panel of judges wrapped up Friday. It focused on whether Seabrook owner NextEra has adequately studied the degrading concrete at the plant.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved NextEra's concrete monitoring plan based on that study and relicensed the plant earlier this year.

Seabrook is the only nuclear plant in the country known to be experiencing the chemical reaction that causes concrete to develop hairline cracks.

"There aren't really the right protocols to figure out, for the NRC, guiding them to how to deal with this,” says Natalie Treat, executive director of the nonprofit, C-10. She spoke on NHPR’s The Exchange Monday.

Treat’s group brought the complaint that resulted in last week's hearing. Their star witness was a national third-party expert on the type of concrete degradation Seabrook is experiencing.

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