As the year comes to a close and we enter our 50th year of activity, we would like to give you a sense of the progress we’ve made and prospects for the new year toward a safe, sustainable energy future for the Seacoast and the state.
Though it’s been a challenging time in our history – especially on the national level! – we have seen some key successes, both in terms of staving off Seabrook plant re-licensing and bringing attention to its vulnerability to climate-related threats, as well as in pursuing the most promising alternative power source for our region – offshore wind! We’ve also continued to make changes and updates to our website and Facebook page, so please check them out if you’d like to keep up with news/updates or review our history and current projects.
2019 MARKS 50 YEARS OF SAPL!
Looking forward, next year marks SAPL’s 50th anniversary, and we are planning a celebration and annual meeting next spring to discuss where things stand with the future of Seabrook. We invite you to offer ideas on what/who to include in this gathering – please email Doug at firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions.
Please consider helping us stay in the game , to keep providing alternatives to continued reliance on life-threatening nuclear technology, by renewing your SAPL membership or becoming a new supporter. We ask that you give generously to support the leading Seacoast organization working for a safe and sustainable energy future. We will continue to press these and related issues with Governor Sununu and local officials – but only with your generous support.
SEABROOK’S CRUMBLING CONCRETE
The ongoing saga of Alkali-Silica Reaction (ASR) problems at Seabrook, the gradual degradation of the plant’s concrete structures due to chronic exposure to groundwater, continues to threaten the owner’s re-licensing gambit. A petition from our allies at C-10 Foundation to intervene in NextEra’s proposed ASR mitigation amendment to their re-licensing proposal appears to be moving forward toward a long-awaited hearing – likely next summer. What this means is that the process will be extended to address C-10’s concerns (which we share!), with final decisions on ASR/re-licensing now postponed till later next year.
Eight years after the onset of the ongoing Fukushima nuclear disaster, our local nuclear plant finally came up with a NRC-approved flooding and coastal storm surge analysis and flood protection report earlier this year. They concluded that key safety structures at the plant are vulnerable under climate-changed 100-year flood and extreme precipitation scenarios. But don’t worry – they proposed that internal flooding can be prevented by strategic and timely use of sandbags! We have raised this issue repeatedly at public events, particularly as it relates to the ASR impacts on the plant’s foundations and other structures, most recently at a public meeting in Hampton last May.
We have continued the drumbeat for state engagement on offshore wind development, as almost every other coastal US state has already undertaken. Southern NE states have gone so far as to propose projects south of Martha’s Vineyard that will put more power into the New England grid than Seabrook currently provides, and MA recently signed contracts for the first 800 MW with its major utilities (including Eversource/PSNH) that will save ratepayers $1.4 BILLION over existing sources over the life of the project. The first step NH needs to take down this road is for the governor to request establishment of an intergovernmental task force with neighboring states, to identify and permit sites in federal waters of the Gulf of Maine to lease for potential wind farm development.
With our allies 350 New Hampshire, we have “localized” the issue with community resolutions demanding action from Governor Sununu. Over the past year, 20 communities from New Castle to Alstead have approved resolutions or passed warrant articles, with a total of over 6000 voters and local officials supporting them by overwhelming numbers at town meetings or votes. We also participated in a well-attended “Rally for Renewables” at the Statehouse on Earth Day in April, in part to deliver town/city letters to leaders in Concord. We have also taken the issue directly to the governor by “bird-dogging” him at campaign stops and other public events, though no movement on his part toward requesting an offshore wind task force is evident as yet.
Not only is the governor not doing what’s needed to pursue offshore wind, he went to the trouble to commission a complete re-write of the state’s 10-year Energy Strategy. The new version downplays renewables and actually suggests providing further subsidy to Seabrook – compensating it for not directly emitting CO2 – while ignoring its routine radioactive gas emissions as well as of course its growing pile of highly radioactive spent fuel. Fortunately, a group of legislators and renewable energy experts (including SAPL!) have produced an alternative 100% Renewable Energy Strategy that charts a course to a sustainable future for NH. Thanks to recent elections, some of these same pols will now be heading up legislative committees to strengthen rather than weaken state renewables standards.
ANNUAL MEETING & PUBLIC FORUM
We also held our annual meeting and public forum last fall at the Portsmouth Public Library. The theme was “Offshore Wind in the Gulf of Maine: Current and Future Prospects ” Our guest speaker was Dr. Habib Dagher, Director of the Advanced Structures and Composites Center at University of Maine Orono. He is leading a consortium aiming to build the first prototype floating wind farm in the country in the next few years, which could provide the model for many more in the Gulf of Maine over the next decade.