CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire homeland security officials said Tuesday that a siren was inadvertently activated at the Seabrook Nuclear Power Station, and that there is no emergency and no danger to the public.
The warning said “Attention, attention, there is a problem at Seabrook Nuclear Power Station. The beaches have closed. Leave the beach area at once and turn on your radio for more information.”
The state Homeland Security and Emergency Management agency, plant owner NextEra Energy Resources, and New Hampshire governor Chris Sununu put out statements more than 30 minutes after beachgoers in nearby Hampton and Rye said they heard announcements at about 11 a.m. about the beaches being closed because of a problem at the plant.
“We are aware of the sirens calling for an evacuation near Seabrook Station,” said Bill Orlove, a spokesperson for plant. “The sirens’ activation was sent in error during testing of the system.
“Local authorities have told the public there is no need to evacuate,” he said. “Seabrook Station is currently operating with no issues that impact the nearby community. We apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused.”
“The state 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,” the governor tweeted around 11:40 a.m. Tuesday.
Sununu said more information would be released as it becomes available, and Seabrook police said they are investigating, but so far, neither has released any more information as to how the alarm went off mistakenly.
“The Seabrook Station Alert was inadvertent there is NO EMERGENCY,” the Hampton Fire Department posted on Facebook.
Still, the mistaken alarm caused panic among some beachgoers. WMUR reported that beaches in Rye, Hampton, and Seabrook temporarily closed as a result of the alarm.
“I just had quite a scare. I arrived at Hampton Beach, NH, parked in public parking north of the beach when a booming alert came over loud speakers,” one person tweeted.
“…I got in my car and headed north to avoid driving by Seabrook and what I expected to be a massive traffic jam. Fortunately, I got a call on the phone about 15 minutes later that it was a FALSE ALARM.”
WBZ-TV reported that residents were also alarmed by the siren.
“We couldn’t get any news about it for a few minutes and we were all just panicking,” Kirsten Straccamoro, who owns a nearby condo, told the news station.
The plant is about 40 miles north of Boston and 10 miles south of Portsmouth. According to the New Hampshire Department of Safety’s website, the power plant generates roughly 1,244 million watts of electricity per year, which supplies power to about 1.2 million families.
It said there are 17 New Hampshire towns within the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone around Seabrook Station: Brentwood, East Kingston, Exeter, Greenland, Hampton, Hampton Falls, Kensington, Kingston, New Castle, Newfields, Newton, North Hampton, Portsmouth, Rye, Seabrook, South Hampton, and Stratham.
Six Massachusetts towns also fall within this zone, and those are Amesbury, Merrimac, Newbury, Newburyport, Salisbury, and West Newbury.