NRC to hold Dec. 18 sessions on Seabrook concrete problem

Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has scheduled a Dec. 18 public open house and companion public meeting to discuss work being performed by the owner of the Seabrook plant to address concrete degradation at the facility.

The 1,200-MW plant is located in Seabrook, N.H., and is owned and operated by a unit of NextEra Energy (NYSE: NEE). The sessions had been scheduled for Oct. 9, but had to be moved due to the federal government shutdown. They will be held in Hampton, N.H.

“We have held earlier meetings in the vicinity of the Seabrook plant on this subject, which helped the public to better understand this issue and provided valuable feedback to the NRC,” NRC Region I Administrator Bill Dean said in a Dec. 5 statement. “The meeting on December 18 will afford another opportunity for members of the public to learn the status of our reviews in this area and the company’s activities to deal with this issue, as well as provide audience members with a chance to once again share their perspectives.”

The concrete degradation at Seabrook is caused by alkali silica reaction (ASR), the agency noted. This is a chemical combining of reactive silica from the concrete aggregate with the alkali from the cement paste in the presence of moisture. The result of the reaction is a gel, which can expand and cause micro-cracks in the concrete.

After the ASR problem was identified at the plant in 2010, the NRC in May 2012 issued a Confirmatory Action Letter (CAL) to NextEra confirming that it would complete a variety of actions in response to the condition. On Oct. 9, the NRC announced that the CAL was being closed out after the agency confirmed through inspections that the actions committed to by the company were being met.

While NRC said its inspections have determined that ASR-affected structures at the plant remain capable of performing their safety functions, the commission will continue to provide focused oversight of the company’s ongoing actions to resolve the issue. This includes NRC review of the results of a testing program being conducted at the University of Texas-Austin, as well as of the on-site monitoring of ASR progression in the plant’s concrete structures.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.