PLAISTOW — Nearly two dozen curious residents packed the Mary Nelson Meeting Room at the public library recently to learn more about the Seabrook Station nuclear power plant and a nonprofit's efforts to monitor radiation in the area.
C-10 Research and Education Foundation Executive Director Natalie Hildt Treat showed the audience a video of C-10's radiation measurement efforts in Massachusetts, concerning the six Massachusetts towns within a 10 mile radius of the Seabrook Station.
Treat said C-10 uses state of the art devices to measure real time exposure from the plant and sends the data to the state.
"The important part is that as nuclear plants age, safety problems apt to rise," Treat said at the presentation.
Spokesman for Seabrook Station owner NextEra Energy Peter Robbins said the is operated in a highly responsible manner.
"Seabrook has an extremely comprehensive, federally mandated radiation monitoring program covering both New Hampshire and Massachusetts," he said. "The program is operated by well-trained and highly experienced radiological experts at Seabrook. Radiation monitoring results are independently verified by radiological professionals from both states as well as the independent Nuclear Regulatory Commission."
Although C-10's efforts to monitor radiation levels in the six Massachusetts towns within the 10 mile radius of the plant are supported by that state's legislature, the 17 cities and towns in New Hampshire that fall within the 10 mile radius are not, according to Treat.
She said that both in New Hampshire and Massachusetts outdated radiation data collection systems exist. The states use thermos-luminescent dosimeters or "TLDs" — thin film strips stuck to utility poles — to gather data for 90 days at a time.
Project Partner Citizens' Initiatives co-founders Damon Thomas of Portsmouth and state Rep. Peter Somssich D-Portsmouth want to change that.
Thomas said he believes New Hampshire residents should be "equally equipped" with the same watchdog efforts from C-10 that the Massachusetts public are. According to Thomas, the TLDs used to protect New Hampshire residents is a collection system which dates back to the 1960s.
With the real-time radiation measurement devices, those who are in charge of public safety can be notified right away of a rise in levels, Thomas said.
Already raising $34,000 in six months for the project, Thomas said it will take about $60,000 to do the job for year one, and $40,000 for year two.
"Our hope is that even if we raise short of $100,000 that the state can put in the difference," Thomas said.
Besides monitoring radiation levels, C-10 has petitioned the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission to look into cement decomposition at the plant. According to Treat, an expert working with C-10 doesn't believe the nuclear plant has demonstrated that the concrete is safe.
Ann Gerns of Plaistow said she didn't worry too much about the concrete at the plant until she saw articles about C-10 recently, and heard about the plant's recent re-licensing to year 2050.
"I'm exceedingly concerned, hearing about the concrete," Gerns said.
She's also concerned about the TLDs.
"I can't believe they're tacking up pieces of film," she said. "90 days, that does nothing."
Gerns called the use of film "negligent at the least, ridiculous at the worst."
Atkinson resident Karen Steele said she learned a lot from the presentation.
"No one was pro/anti nuclear power, it was all about safety, monitoring, and the degradation of the concrete," Steele said via email. "I was very surprised that there is this large group (C-10) from Massachusetts who is monitoring in (Massachusetts), but nothing in New Hampshire."
Request for comment by NextEra was not returned by press time.
Treat said more on this subject will be discussed at the C-10 annual public hearing on June 27 at the Newburyport (Massachusetts) Public Library at 7 p.m.