Written by Natalie Hildt Treat, Executive Director of C-10 Research and Education Foundation (C-10). C-10 is a non-profit organization focused on the safety of the Seabrook Station nuclear power plant.
Since 1991, we've been monitoring the atmosphere for abnormal radiation levels. This work, which we do under contract with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Bureau of Radiation Control, is our core service. Monitoring helps give state officials a base line of normal, permitted releases. It could also help emergency officials help protect the public in the event of a serious radiological event.
We also keep tabs on plant safety by monitoring official reports and other correspondence with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and speak for greater accountability by Seabrook owner NextEra Energy as well as the regulators themselves.
C-10 stands for "citizens within the 10-mile radius," the federally-designated Emergency Planning Zone around each of the nation's commercial nuclear reactors. There are six Massachusetts cities and towns, and seventeen in New Hampshire, home to about 160,000 people.
Before Seabrook was originally licensed, a lot of people were concerned about what a nuclear plant would mean for the health and safety of local populations.
Seabrook has been a part of our energy economy for thirty years, and it was recently relicensed to operate until 2050.
C-10's goal is to ensure that Seabrook is operated as safely as possible, for as long as it is generating power, and beyond.
After decades in our former office in Newburyport, it has been a breath of fresh air to be at CI Works. My own background is in building energy efficiency and renewable energy, so it's particularly fun to be surrounded by neighbors in the clean energy sector. Everyone is creative and entrepreneurial, and it is very stimulating and supportive.
C-10's radiological monitoring network has benefited from state support since the early 1990s. But a lot of our equipment—including computers, radiological probes, anemometers and cables, are showing their age.
To keep monitoring on a reliable 24/7 basis we really need state funding to invest in the equipment—much of which faces the harsh New England elements. We’re confident that Representative Kelcourse and Senator DiZoglio will be able to secure resources in the upcoming state budget.
While most of the fifteen monitoring sites we operate are in Massachusetts, we maintain three in New Hampshire, with private funding. Thanks to an initiative led by Portsmouth State Representative Peter Somssich, we are really excited that 2020 is going to be the year we’re finally able to make some meaningful expansion to the monitoring network in the New Hampshire communities within the 10-mile radius.
C-10’s team is small but mighty. Our staff includes myself and Mike Mansir, our network administrator. We rely a lot on our board of directors and other volunteers to help with things like research, outreach and fundraising. Several of our board members have been with C-10 since the beginning, and are a tremendous source of institutional knowledge. We are always looking for new folks to get involved!
My biggest fear —well, C-10’s work is to help prevent the unthinkable happening at the nuclear power plant that’s about five miles from our home in Amesbury. It’s pretty heavy, actually, and a lot of people would prefer not to think about it. There are many good people at NextEra Energy working for safety every day. There are lots of local, state and federal agencies that coordinate to plan for what they would do in the event of an accident at Seabrook. But the reality is that accidents can and do happen. We just passed the ninth anniversary of the disaster at Fukushima, after which people were evacuated in a 50 mile radius. There are whole towns and regions around that nuclear plant, and the one at Chernobyl, where people may never be able to go home.
So, it’s important for people who live and work in the affected communities to consider what it means for them, and what they can do to get educated and be prepared. We’ve got lots of information to that end at C-10.org, including links to state and federal resources.
I’m really proud that C-10 has grown and accomplished so much in the three years since I’ve been executive director. In the past few years we’ve been involved in a case before the NRC relative to a serious problem of degraded concrete at Seabrook. With the help of one of the world's leading expert in this problem known as alkali-silica reaction, we’ve called the testing and monitoring of the concrete into question, and we are urging NextEra to adopt more rigorous protocols to help keep the public safe. A three-judge panel is expected to rule on this case by April 9.
C-10 has been around for almost thirty years. We’ve garnered a fair amount of media over the years, especially relative to our challenge on Seabrook’s degraded concrete. But it’s still surprising how many people don’t know about us. Once they hear what we do, they are really glad we exist.
Small businesses and nonprofits can learn from each other, and they can also provide a lot of encouragement and moral support. Many of us at CI Works are toiling away in semi-isolation. It can be lonely. A friendly face and a quick chat at the water cooler can lift my spirits. It has also led to new relationships, sparked ideas, and even resulted in new financial support. It’s great to be a part of the CI Works Community.