Seabrook Station to Upgrade Alert System After False Alarm
The eerie message to "evacuate the beach" that came from some Seabrook Station sirens on July 12 was the result of human error, and several steps are being taken to prevent a future occurrence, according to an investigation by the plant's operator.
The plant was operating normally when the message was heard on 10 of the 120 sirens within a 10-mile radius of the plant.
A thorough investigation concluded that human error resulted in the inadvertent activation. The emergency siren system had no equipment issues, according to NextEra Energy Resources spokesman Bob Orlove.
No report was released with results of the investigation, but Orlove outlined several measures taken to insure against another false alarm incident, including:
- Additional safeguards and enhanced oversight to verify test procedures. Pre-programmed commands for siren activation will be removed.
- Staff that test the emergency siren system will be retrained.
- Management oversight during a system test will be increased.
- Share lessons learned with state partners, who also conduct emergency tests.
Orlove said an upgrade to the technology used to send alerts was already underway before the false alarm.
Seabrook Station will soon begin using the federal emergency system called IPAWS, which is already used during weather and Amber alerts. The system sends messages to all cell phones within a specific area, whether they are residents of New Hampshire or Massachusetts, or visitors to those states.
The alert emits a loud noise to get the cell phone user's attention. Users have the option to opt out of receiving the messages.
The New Hampshire Department of Safety had no comment about the investigation, as they had not reviewed a report about it.
"But we look forward to reviewing it soon and ensuring this incident is not repeated by Seabrook Station in the future," spokesman Tyler Dumont told Seacoast Current.
State Rep. David Meuse from Portsmouth (D-37th District) was not impressed with the result of the investigation.
"Isn’t it sweet how the operators of Seabrook station get to investigate themselves after scaring the entire Seacoast half to death? And the findings? About what you’d expect from a company investigating itself," Meuse said on his Twitter account.
The C-10 Research & Education Foundation said on its Facebook page that the group "appreciates" the alert upgrade but still has concerns about being prepared for an emergency.
"Could FEMA and the plant's owner NextEra do more to support the first responders in the communities within the 10 mile Emergency Planning Zone around the plant, so that they have what they need to keep us safe?," C-10 asked.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH