Seabrook - License Renewal News

Reason should prevail at Seabrook

Fosters Daily Democrat – December 7, 2010

There was encouraging news last week in the effort to go green and for the United States — especially the cold-plagued Northeast — to become less dependent on foreign oil and gas.

A report, released Wednesday by Environment New Hampshire, concludes there is the potential to harness more than 200 gigawatts of wind energy just off the Eastern seaboard. Capturing that energy from Maine to Georgia would equate to enough juice to power 55,000 Granite State homes, a number five times greater than the households in Portsmouth and enough to essentially power the Seacoast, according to spokesman Jessica O'Hare.

But before anyone gets too excited, it is important to note all this is still in the realm of prophesy and a long, long way from reality. Further, there is no promise that energy harnessed from Maine to Georgia will all find its way to the Seacoast. In fact, that is highly unlikely.

This point is important for several reasons. Among them is the understanding that there is no silver bullet to breaking the energy ties that the United States has to foreign sources of energy. It is going to take time and patience.

The immediate import of this statement is relevant to the hearings which have gotten under way to possibly extend the license for the Seabrook Station nuclear power plant another 20 years.

During one of those recent sessions, opponents of the extension argued that alternate sources of power would be sufficiently in reach to replace Seabrook and therefore shortstop the need of a license extension.

Such optimism is overrated and misplaced.

Even assuming this much green power could be brought online in time, it is parochial to look at just the needs of the immediate Seacoast. Power users in this region do not constitute an island of energy unto themselves. The power grid to which Seabrook connects stretches well beyond the southeast corner of the Granite State. So, too, does the need for energy independence.

That means the need for nuclear power, from Seabrook Station and elsewhere, stands to be part of the nation's energy mix for at least another generation or two, or three.

Seabrook may or may not deserve to be relicensed. But that decision should rest on safety issues. It should not be shunted aside by this country's phobic resistance to nuclear power.

As has been written to the point of tedium, much of Europe — especially France — is powered safety by nuclear energy. It is a proven science there and here.

And while there have been problems at some facilities such as Vermont Yankee which may ultimately necessitate its closing, this does not yet appear to be the case at Seabrook.

Seabrook should remain open or be closed based on its technical merits, not emotional or philosophical ones.