Failing Concrete at Seabrook Station: Top Ten Reasons why C-10 Foundation Asked the NRC for Public Hearing
April 11, 2017 – The C-10 Research and Education Foundation, Inc. has formally asked the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a public hearing in the matter of deteriorating concrete at the Seabrook Station nuclear power plant, as well as requesting intervenor status in NRC Docket 50-443.
The proceeding relates to the License Amendment Request (LAR) 16-03 NextEra Energy Seabrook, LLC (NextEra) submitted in the summer of 2016, seeking to “Revise Current Licensing Basis to Adopt a Methodology for the Analysis of Seismic Category I Structures with Concrete Affected by Alkali-Silica Reaction.”
The C-10 Foundation has long warned of the irreversible concrete degradation known as alkali-silica reaction, or “ASR” that is ongoing at Seabrook Station. C-10 Foundation’s petition lays forth ten contentions that the group asserts merit further investigation and a public hearing by the NRC, including what it sees as insufficient testing of concrete at the Seabrook Station nuclear reactor and lack of transparency as to the test results and the seriousness of degradation.
“We are concerned not only about the public health and safety implications of allowing the current operating license to stand given what we know about the plant’s concrete, but also about the precedent it would set for the entire U.S. nuclear industry,” said Natalie Hildt Treat, Executive Director of the C-10 Foundation. For details on the ten related contentions C-10 sites as grounds for a hearing, read the petition here.
C-10 Submits Comments on NextEra License Amendment Request
March 9, 2017 – Members of the C-10 Foundation board of directors submitted comments to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission relative to NextEra Energy Seabrook LLC’s License Amendment Request (LAR) 16-30. In the LAR, NextEra Energy Seabrook, LLC seeks to “Revise Current Licensing Basis to Adopt a Methodology for the Analysis of Seismic Category I Structures with Concrete Affected by Alkali-Silica Reaction.”
This docket pertains to the calculations of the concrete’s ability to bear load and withstand a seismic event such as an earthquake. But in C-10’s view, this LAR is a paper solution. The thousands of tiny cracks and larger ones in the power plant’s concrete dome and retaining walls remain, and the concrete continues to degrade. As noted in our comments, experts have studied this issue, and there is no known solution or remedy. More information on the proceeding is here. Read our comments.
The Story of Seabrook’s Concrete Concerns
Seabrook Station nuclear power plant was licensed in 1976 by the NRC. It was built by PSNH and a consortium of other companies on a design basis provided by the NRC. The portland concrete used to form Seabrook’s floor, containment building, and most of its structures was done by Parini and came from Maine. The entire plant was built from the same aggregate. Construction was completed in 1986. The plant went online in 1990 with a 40-year operating license. The current owner is NextEra Energy Resources.
Although the current license does not expire until 2030, in 2010 NextEra applied for an extension of Seabrook’s license till 2050. (Read more…)
What is ASR?
ASR is alkali-silicon reaction. It is a form of concrete degradation. It happens when water is absorbed by concrete. Silicon can become reactive in the presence of water. ASR leads to the formation of a gel in the concrete which can create cracking. In addition, raised temperatures can make concrete susceptible to developing ASR over time. “As plants age, the potential of ASR to occur in structures forming the biological shield or support for the reactor pressure vessel may increase as these structures are located in areas in which they are subjected to moderate elevated temperature in combination with radiation.“ (William, Xi, Naus 2013 88)
It is known that ASR is taking place at Seabrook, but the extent of the cracking has not been explored beyond the surface of the walls.
There is no known remedy or repair for ASR.
By Sarah Doenmez for C-10 Research and Education Foundation 16 April 2015