Seabrook Begins Testing

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OPERATORS of the Seabrook nuclear power plant Monday began low-power testing, with the first atomic chain reaction expected within seven to 10 days. Atomic operation will be the biggest milestone yet for a plant that is a decade behind schedule, billions of dollars over budget, and a focus of the nation's anti-nuclear movement.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on Friday granted Seabrook a low-power license.

Nearly three years after the reactor was completed, the $6 billion project finally won NRC approval for the tests on May 18. But the NRC granted a one-week stay of the license so a federal court could rule on requests to delay the tests.

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Last Thursday, the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia declined to delay the tests.

The license permits Seabrook to conduct tests at up to 5 percent of full power. The plant must win final federal approval for evacuation plans for nearby communities before it can operate commercially. Massachusetts officials and anti-nuclear activists have vowed to continue their opposition to the plant.

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