Regulators Will Take More Public Input Before Relicensing Seabrook Nuclear Plant

Jan 23, 2019

Seabrook Station.
Credit NHPR

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will delay giving Seabrook Station permission to stay open until 2050, after facing pressure from lawmakers to take more public input.

Members of Congress raised concerns after the NRC said it would approve extending Seabrook's license this month – before an adjudicative hearing with a local watchdog group, the C-10 Foundation, this summer.

That hearing will focus on cracks in the plant's concrete foundations. It could lead to changes in Seabrook owner NextEra’s plans to manage the problem.

"We're not trying to shut the plant down," says C-10 board member Chris Nord in a statement. “Their methods deserve public scrutiny."

The Congressional delegation from Massachusetts and New Hampshire wrote to the NRC, saying the license approval should be delayed until after the hearing so as not to “silence local stakeholders.”

“Even if the license amendment can be changed retroactively following the hearing, it is unacceptable that the NRC plans to approve the license … before the community publicly shares its concerns,” the Massachusetts delegation wrote in their letter. “We urge you to reconsider this timeline and appropriately weigh the issues raised by stakeholders at the upcoming public meeting.

In its response, the NRC does not commit to delaying approval of the license until after the C-10 hearing takes place.

Instead, an NRC spokesman says agency staff will meet with the public separately before moving forward on the new license. That meeting has not been scheduled.

Seabrook will be one of two nuclear plants in New England after Pilgrim Station closes this year.