Nuclear Reactor Safety Panel To Discuss Seabrook Concrete Degradation

Oct 30, 2018

Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant as seen from Seabrook Harbor in September.
Credit Annie Ropeik / NHPR

A scientific panel will discuss cracks spreading in the concrete at Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant during a meeting Wednesday.

The independent committee advises the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on reactor safeguards.

They’ll hear from federal officials and from Seabrook’s owner, NextEra, on how they’re addressing the problem.

The concrete degradation is caused by a chemical reaction, known as ASR, and was found in 2010.

That was when NextEra first applied to extend the Seacoast facility's federal operating license through 2050.

Regulators don’t believe the cracks pose a safety threat. Seabrook is the only nuclear plant in the country known to be experiencing ASR.

Longtime opponents of the plant will get to weigh in on the issue as part of hearings on the license renewal next spring.

Seabrook will be one of two nuclear plants left in New England when Massachusetts’ Pilgrim Station shuts down next year. The other nuke still operating is Millstone in Connecticut.

New England’s electrical grid runs predominantly on nuclear power and natural gas.