Seabrook, New Hampshire — The most expensive electricity in the United States comes from the controversial, troubled Seabrook nuclear power plant in New Hampshire near the Massachusetts border. both as taxpayers and as consumers, ratepayers are paying for John Sununu and company’s technological lemon.
The citizens who led the opposition to the construction of the Seabrook plant, which was hastily licensed in early 1990 by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission before crucial data had been filed, have reorganized themselves into a group called C-10. C-10 stands for Citizens within the Ten Mile Radius which is the area covered by an inadequate Emergency Response Plan around the plant in case of an accident.
At a recent meeting of C-10 in Newburyport, Massachusetts, I had the opportunity to see a well-organized, determined association of citizens developing their future strategies to shut down the plant and watchdog its current operations. These veterans of the Seabrook struggles — demonstrations, litigations, lobbying and numerous forums — have established a state of the art radiological monitoring system placed in twelve homes. Any radiation leaks will be detected and announced by nearby residents without reliance on a corporate-government bureaucracy that has other axes to grind.
“We won an the patties [against Seabrook) and lost the war; sail] one leader. She was referring to the Bush government’s pre-emption of the states regarding crucial public safety matters including the widely acknowledged impossibility of safely evacuating thousands of beach-goers during the summer should the plant go haywire. “Reagan and Bush, who campaigned against big federal government and for states, have done just the opposite,” declared another anti‑ nuke organizer.
Even by comparison with other nuclear plants, Seabrook is having problems. The nuclear industry’s own private INPO reports, conducted annually before Seabrook was licensed, listed numerous deficiencies in technology and management.
There have been 10 unplanned shutdowns in its first year of operation due to missing bolts, a steam leak, and problems with 0-rings, valves, the turbine and main coolant pump seals. All manners of problems have surfaced with x-rays of welds and the inadequacy of records thereto.
Financial problems from this hugely cost over-run plant (the other twin plant lies permanently unfinished) continue to mount. Nearly 50% of Seabrook owners have declared bankruptcy. Proceeds from the sale of New Hampshire Industrial Development Authority tax-exempt bonds are being used to finance the taxover of Seabrook by Northeast Utilities — a questionable use of such tax‑subsidized funds. For nine years, according to the Campaign for Ratepayers’ Rights, the now bankrupt Public service or New Hampshire has received money from the sales of these bonds.
Opponents of Seabrook are talking of Seabrook’s “financial meltdown” as a fertile field of public inquiry by both state and Congressional investigators.
Meanwhile, more studies come out saying that New England can meet its electricity needs well into the next century through easy energy efficiencies and renewable energy. Some major utilities in California, Oregon and New England have adopted this sensible corporate plan for their future operations.
Yet standing on the seashore opposite the Seabrook: atomic energy plant, residents reflected a sense of daily foreboding. Their home values are down and they have no means to go anywhere else. So they are stepping up their vigilance and their resolve to close down that technological monster in their midst. Corporate recklessness and arrogance may yet do it for them.
(Citizens interested in more information may write to C-10, P. 0. Box 362 Amesbury, Massachusetts 01913).