Washington (December 18, 2013) – Senator Edward J. Markey, joined by Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Representatives John F. Tierney, James P. McGovern, Stephen F. Lynch, William R. Keating, Niki Tsongas, and Joseph P. Kennedy today sent a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) recommending the agency make no decision on the June 2010 request by Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant licensee NextEra Energy Seabrook to relicense the power plant for another 20 years that would begin in 2030. A Boston Globe investigation found that portions of the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant had lost 22 percent of its strength due to water seepage and saturation over the past decade, a phenomenon of concrete degradation determined to be alkali silica reaction (ASR). While testing and monitoring of the degradation has been undertaken since then, it is unlikely that the tests or models currently being utilized can be applied to Seabrook in a manner that would enable the licensee to predict any future impacts of the problem.   


“If the aging-related safety concerns associated with nuclear power plants were fully understood and addressed, that could be one of several factors accounted for when considering whether to allow the Seabrook nuclear power plant to operate until the year 2050,” write the lawmakers in the letter to NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane. “But that is clearly not the case when it comes to ASR, and as such it is simply not possible to conclude that the reactor can be safely operated between the years 2030-50.” 


In November 2011, then-Rep. Markey and Rep. Tierney called on the NRC to take immediate steps to address problems related to the dissolution of concrete in safety-related systems at Seabrook. In June 2011, the lawmakers called on the NRC to deny a 20-year relicense application for the Seabrook nuclear power plant that would begin in 2030 and end in 2050. The two lawmakers also called on the NRC to disallow all requests for 20-year license extensions that are filed as early as 20 years prior to expiration of the current license for any operating U.S. nuclear reactors.


A copy of the letter to the NRC can be found HERE.