Sept 27 Efforts by NextEra Energy Inc to
address degradation of concrete at the Seabrook nuclear power
plant in New Hampshire will be the subject of a public meeting
conducted by staff of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
staff on Oct. 9.
The NRC has said the plant continues to operate safely and
the problem with concrete has not caused structural problems, in
part because the concrete walls are reinforced with steel rods
known as rebar.
The 1,246-megawatt Seabrook reactor is about 40 miles (60
km) north of Boston.
NextEra identified degradation of below-grade concrete
structures at Seabrook in June 2009 and confirmed the problem
was from alkali silica reaction, or ASR, in August 2010.
ASR is a chemical reaction that can cause expansion and
cracking in concrete, potentially resulting in structural
In May 2012, the NRC issued a so-called confirmatory action
letter to NextEra requiring the company to undertake a variety
of actions in response to the condition.
In August 2013, the NRC said NextEra had met all of the
commitments contained in the confirmatory action letter.
The NRC said, however, it is continuing to monitor the
condition of the concrete structures and a company
concrete-degradation testing program being conducted at the
University of Texas - Austin.
NextEra will use the results of that testing program to
determine the long-term resolution of the concrete issues.
The NRC has said it will not make a final decision on the
plant's license renewal application until the company has a plan
to deal with the concrete issues.
Seabrook entered service in 1990. Even though it is one of
the newest reactors in the nation, NextEra in June 2010 applied
to the NRC to renew the plant's original 40-year license for
another 20 years. The original license does not expire until
The NRC has completed several non-contentious license
renewals at other plants in less than two years, but NRC staff
in the Seabrook case still have several reports to complete
before making a recommendation to the commission on the
NextEra has told the NRC it does not expect to get the
concrete degradation results from the University of Texas until
2014, so the NRC could not make a decision on the license
renewal until at least that time.
That 2014 time frame, however, fits well with the NRC's
self-imposed moratorium in August 2012 on issuing new licenses
until the agency reviews the environmental impact of storing
spent nuclear fuel at temporary sites, such as nuclear power
plants, due in part to a lack of a permanent waste storage
facility. That decision followed a federal court ruling in June
The NRC currently expects to complete its waste confidence
rulemaking in September 2014.