Decay at Seabrook Station Nuclear Plant
Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant Station has a problem. A big problem. The concrete used to contain the plant’s core reactor containment enclosure building is decaying. In other words, the concrete used to contain the radioactivity is slowly rotting. The concrete is suffering from a condition known as ASR or alkali-silica reaction. ASR is like a slow-moving cancer for concrete which causes staining and cracking. What is unusual is that Seabrook is the only nuclear plant in the United States known to have this problem. If there is a problem and the concrete fails, there isn’t a realistic evacuation route. If you have ever been to Hampton Beach in the summer, you know how impossible it is to get out of the area. This situation needs to be addressed. There IS NO PLAN B.
Addressing the situation starts with a methodical and scientific approach to monitoring the concrete. At issue: what is the best approach to do this. Improper testing can result in false positive results, which will lead to failure. It’s essential an independent assessment be done. This situation cannot be remediated.
So how does Seabrook move forward? It depends on who you talk to. C-10, the Amesbury, Massachusetts based Seabrook watchdog group, has brought in Dr. Victor Saouma, a foremost authority on concrete and ASR. Dr. Saouma did a thorough study of the problem and came up with the following:
ASR is an extraordinarily complex problem, so requires a complex solution
Too much is at state to take shortcuts and jeopardize the safety of the public
Unless/until NRC takes steps to rectify, decision to re-license Seabrook with a substandard program for addressing ASR, this License Amendment Request may become a major stain on the reliability and credibility of the agency.
He would suggest that the affected parties:
Perform adequate, state-of-the-art testing and analysis, including petrography, accelerated expansion tests, and more robust finite element studies;
Talk to HydroQuebec, as they are facing similar problems with ASR in dams;
Learn more about the latest scientific literature on ASR; and,
Ensure that independent peer review is performed.
NextEra Energy, the owners of Seabrook, have acknowledged the concrete decay, but insist they have the situation under control and can still safely operate the plant.The plant’s operating license was due to expire in 2030. NextEra applied to extend the expiration date to 2050 and got NRC approval in March of 2019, agreeing with NextEra’s assessment. While the NRC gave a pass to Seabrook’s concrete-aging management plan, they have indicated that they could revisit the issue based on how the Atomic Safety Licensing Board rules in a challenge brought by C-10. A decision has been promised by July 10. The debate is far from over.
C-10 is hosting their annual meeting via zoom on July 15th. At the meeting they will provide a status update on the concrete situation. The webinar is free and open to the public.
To register for the meeting, click here: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_sd_EPx4CTq6p_1lVT9hFUw
Welcome! You are invited to join a webinar: C-10 Annual Public Meeting. …
C-10 monitors the safety of the Seabrook Station nuclear power plant. At this free webinar, you’ll receive updates…
A Brief History of Seabrook \ Station
Construction at Seabrook started in 1976. There were numerous delays and cost overruns which resulted in the plant not going online until 1990. The Public Service Company of New Hampshire, the company behind the plant eventually plunged into bankruptcy. There was a plan to build a second unit at the plant, which was scrapped for financial reasons. The evacuation route from the plant has never been tested. Anyone who knows the geography knows that an evacuation is simply not possible.
What you can do
Consider joining C-10. They monitor everything going on at the plant and make this information to the public. Learn more at
Challenge to Seabrook’s Degraded Concrete | C-10 Research & Education Foundation