NRC staff clears Seabrook license extension in terms of environmental impact

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is issuing a final plant-specific supplement to its Generic Environmental Impact Statement for license renewal regarding the renewal of NextEra Energy Seabrook LLC‘s operating license for an additional 20 years of operation for Seabrook Station Unit 1 in New Hampshire.

The NRC will provide notice of that final review in the Aug. 7 Federal Register. The draft version of the supplement to the GEIS was noticed by the NRC in the Federal Register in August 2011. In April 2013, a supplement to the draft supplement was published. The comments received on the draft supplement were published in 2011 and the comments on the supplement to the supplement are addressed in final supplement now being released.

The NRC within this final supplement determined that the adverse environmental impacts of license renewal for Seabrook are not so great that preserving the option of license renewal for energy-planning decisionmakers would be unreasonable. This recommendation is based on: the analysis and findings in the GEIS; information provided in the environmental report and other documents submitted by NextEra; consultation with federal, state, local, and tribal agencies; the NRC staff’s independent environmental review; and consideration of public comments received.

The existing license expires on March 15, 2030. The NRC’s federal action that is pending and underpinned by this environmental review is the decision whether to renew the license for an additional 20 years. NextEra applied for this renewal in 2010.

The Seabrook site spans 889 acres on a peninsula bordered by Browns River, Hunts Island Creek, and estuarine marshlands. Site structures include the Unit 1 containment building, primary auxiliary building, fuel storage building, waste processing building, control and diesel generator building, turbine building, administration and service building, ocean intake and discharge structures, circulating water pump house, and service water pump house. The original construction plans called for two identical units at Seabrook; however, construction on Unit 2 was halted in 1984 prior to completion. The remaining Unit 2 buildings are now used primarily for storage.

Seabrook Unit 1 began commercial operation in August 1990. NextEra has no plans to complete Unit 2 in the future, the supplement said. Seabrook Unit 1 is powered by a Westinghouse pressurized water reactor (PWR). Westinghouse supplied the nuclear steam supply system, and General Electric supplied the turbine generator. The nuclear steam supply system at Seabrook is a four-loop PWR.

Unit 1 originally produced a reactor core power of 3,411 megawatts-thermal (MWt). The reactor core power was increased in 2005 to 3,587 MWt and then again in 2006 to the plant’s current output of 3,648 MWt. The original design net electrical capacity was 1,198 megawatts-electric (MWe), which was increased to 1,221 MWe in 2005 and then to 1,245 MWe in 2006.

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.