Thanks to the great work of our allies at C-10, the growing Alkali-Silica Reaction (ASR) problem threatening the integrity of the Seabrook plant’s concrete foundations is getting some well-deserved media attention. A recent negative citation from NRC inspectors for inadequate monitoring of ASR—which was a key concern of the C-10 legal intervention and resulting monitoring requirements—has gotten the attention of congressional delegations on both sides of the Massachusetts/New Hampshire border, leading to calls for greater NRC oversight. For our part, SAPL has sent a letter to each member of the New Hampshire congressional delegation calling for an independent review of the situation, and asking how our representatives in Congress plan to promote more NRC accountability on behalf of the public’s safety.
The fact that this unprecedented ASR problem is occurring throughout the plant’s foundations, and is known to continue to grow in other similar concrete structures, should raise concerns about the viability of the plant now and decades in the future. At the very least, a careful review should have led to the postponement of the plant’s operating license renewal to 2050, which was granted in March 2019 despite the fact that a required public hearing on C-10’s contentions had yet to take place.
What these inspection results and the resulting controversy lay bare is that NRC—and of course plant owner Next Era—still do not have an adequate handle on monitoring, let alone mitigating, this growing ASR threat to the plant’s future safe operation, despite many years of public criticism and intervention.