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Subject False alarm inadvertently triggered at Seabrook Station nuclear power plant temporarily closes beaches
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An emergency alarm was inadvertently triggered Tuesday morning at the Seabrook Station nuclear power plant, causing some panic at Seacoast beaches.

The false alarm, which went off around 10:30 a.m., led beaches in Rye, Hampton and Seabrook to temporarily close.

The following voice message was played in speakers at and near the beaches:

"Attention. Attention. There is a problem at Seabrook Nuclear Power Station. The beaches are closed. Please leave the beach area at once and turn on your radio for more information."

Seabrook town manager Bill Manzi said his office is usually notified of any testing, but he said that didn't happen Tuesday. He said he's disappointed in the lack of communication from the plant.

"A lot of discomfort. A lot of anxiety. A lot of people's vacations of interrupted," Manzi said. "Obviously, if there is a real emergency, we want people off the beach, but it was not. It was just handled terribly."

A representative for the company that operates the power plant said the false alarm was activated during testing.

"We are aware of the sirens calling for an evacuation near Seabrook Station. The sirens’ activation was sent in error during testing of the system. Local authorities have told the public there is no need to evacuate. Seabrook Station is currently operating with no issues that impact the nearby community. We apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused," Doug Andrews, lead communications specialist for NextEra Energy Nuclear Communications -- Southern Region, said in a statement.

The governor's office said it's also looking into how the incident happened.

"Our friend's mom came running down and said, 'There's a problem with the nuclear plant. It's going to explode. You have to evacuate the beach,' and we were all like, freaking out, obviously," said Sophie Hanpoian, a Seabrook summer resident.

"Everybody was kind of in a panic on the streets," said Gina Schoenfield, another summer resident. "We didn't know if we should leave, stay --a little bit of chaos."

The announcement told people in the area to tune to their local radio station for more information.

"Of course, I turned the radio on like everybody did, but there was nothing on any of the radio stations, nothing on the emergency broadcast system," said summer resident Gordon Goodwin.

Families who have visited for generations said they're used to the occasional notification of a system test by the Seabrook station, but not this time. Seabrook police and fire officials fielded so many calls that they sent officers to the beach to affirm it was a false alarm.

"When I heard it was a false alarm, I was like, why isn't the nuke plant making an announcement that that was false, it wasn't them?" Goodwin said. "But there's been nothing."

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is aware of the false alert, officials said, adding that the plant was operating normally.

"NRC regulations require a system be in place to notify the public of an emergency at the plant. NRC inspectors review the plant’s testing and maintenance program during bi-annual inspections. We assure the system is being maintained and tested in accordance with the its design (which is reviewed and approved by FEMA)," Diane Screnci, senior public affairs officer, USNRC, Region I, said in a statement. "We expect our licensees to figure out what happened, why it happened and take action to prevent recurrence. Our inspectors will follow the company’s actions to address this issue.

After noon, officials announced over the speaker system that a false alarm was activated and that there was no danger. Then, in a text message sent to phones on the Seacoast around 12:30 p.m., officials announced, "New Hampshire Homeland Security and Emergency Management has been notified by Seabrook Nuclear Power Station that an inadvertent siren activation happened earlier today, July 12, 2022, at the plant. There is no emergency at the plant and no danger to the public. Further information will be released as it becomes available."

Again, there was no emergency related to the nuclear power plant.
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