November 10. 2013 8:57PM

Seabrook visit

Hassan tours Seabrook nuclear power plant

Union Leader Correspondent

New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan witnesses a test in the simulated control room at Seabrook Power Plant on Thursday with senior reactor operator Dianne Strand. (GRETYL MACALASTER PHOTO)

SEABROOK — Gov. Maggie Hassan got a peek into the operations of Seabrook power plant during a visit to the nuclear power station on Thursday.

Hassan witnessed a training scenario in the plant’s control room simulator.

Every six weeks, employees run through various simulated tests focused on things that could go wrong, including a loss of power, as they trained for on Thursday.

Hassan’s visit coincided with the release of an economic impact study completed by the Nuclear Energy Institute that showed the station has an annual economic impact in the state of about $535 million.

Hassan said she looked forward to reading the report, and learning more about the plant’s impact.

“Seabrook Station is a job creator and an important part of our state’s diverse energy portfolio,” Hassan said, adding that she expects it will continue to be part of that energy portfolio into the future.

The plant currently generates about 40 percent of the state’s electricity.

During her visit, Hassan also highlighted the work of the 650 employees at the plant, and how it is serving to train the next generation of nuclear engineers.

David Robinson has worked at the plant for 35 years, since before it was operational. He came on as a chemistry technician and is now the department manager.

Meghan Woods is a fire protection engineer who has been with the plant for three years. Both of her parents work in the industry, and she grew up near the Pilgrim plant in Massachusetts.

“This is a great place to work. The people are good to work with, cooperative and helpful and there is never a dull moment, always a challenge. If you don’t see the challenge, you are not looking,” Robinson said.

He said one of the problems with nuclear power is that people do not understand it.

“We have the nuclear science and now we have the dollars and cents,” Robinson said about the economic impact study.

Woods was attracted to the area when she started looking for employment after college. Seabrook also offers high-paying jobs. According to the NEI report, workers at Seabrook make about double the average income of other workers in Rockingham and Strafford counties, where the majority of employees reside.

Late in the day, Hassan paid a visit to PlaneSense, Inc. in Portsmouth where she planned to meet with key executives to discuss improving aviation in New Hampshire.

That visit came shortly before the first passenger commercial flight out of Pease International Airport in five years as Allegiant Air resumed twice weekly flights to Sanford, Fla.