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Local authorities: Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant sirens were false alarm

Seabrook Station Nuclear Power Plant
Dan Tuohy
Seabrook Station Nuclear Power Plant

(Editor’s note - This story was updated on Wednesday, July 13 to clarify information about the operation of the sirens at Seabrook Nuclear Power Station.)

The sirens heard near the Seabrook Nuclear Power Station Tuesday morning were a false alarm, according to local authorities and the company that operates the plant.

New Hampshire Homeland Security and Emergency Management said they were notified by officials at the power plant "that an inadvertent siren activation happened earlier today."

"There is no emergency at the plant and no danger to the public," the state's emergency management agency wrote in a statement.

The Hampton Police Department, Rye Police Department and Rockingham County Sheriff's Office posted similar notices on their respective Facebook pages.

More resources from What to do in the event of an emergency at the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant

A representative for NextEra Energy Resources, the company that operates the Seabrook nuclear power plant, said they were aware of the sirens and apologized for the inconvenience they may have caused.

“The sirens’ activation was sent in error during testing of the system. Local authorities have told the public there is no need to evacuate,” NextEra Energy Resources spokesperson Britt Griffin said. “Seabrook Station is currently operating with no issues that impact the nearby community.”

Griffin said NextEra Energy is responsible for activating and testing the sirens. A spokesperson for New Hampshire’s Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management declined to confirm that or answer questions about siren activation, referring questions to NextEra. Massachusetts’ Emergency Management Agency also did not respond to requests for comment. 

(Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported that state officials were in charge of activating and testing the sirens. That was based on information provided by NextEra Energy to NHPR. NextEra Energy later corrected the statement to say that sirens at the power plant are NextEra Energy’s responsibility.) 

Some people on the Seacoast reported hearing alerts related to the power station this morning, which sits near Hampton Beach, across the Hampton-Seabrook Harbor.

Among them was Cathy Lovett, who was working in the Hampton Harbor Master’s office when a voice came over the speakers.

"It was very scary to hear, 'Evacuate the beach, immediately,’” she said.

Lovett said an hour passed before she learned it was a false alarm.

Rusty Bridle, director of membership for the Hampton Chamber of Commerce, said people seemed startled at first — but once they learned it was an accident, they understood.

“It’s too bad it happened. I know some people got off the beach really quickly,” Bridle said. “But I think the local authorities did as best as they could to get the word out there that it was an accidental alarm.”

Bridle said officials with the state and the power plant should do a better job of informing people about alarm testing but characterized today’s incident as a “hiccup.”

Mara Hoplamazian reports on climate change, energy, and the environment for NHPR.
Dan is a long-time New Hampshire journalist who has written for outlets including Foster's Daily Democrat, The Citizen of Laconia, The Boston Globe, and The Eagle-Tribune. He comes to NHPR from the New Hampshire Union Leader, where he reported on state, local, and national politics.

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