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‘There is no emergency.’ False alarm at Seabrook nuclear plant in N.H. sends nearby beachgoers fleeing

A false alarm Tuesday at the Seabrook Nuclear Power Station in Seabrook, N.H., approximately 40 miles north of Boston, pictured here, sent patrons at nearby Hampton Beach scrambling to evacuate before they were advised there was no threat to the public.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

A false alarm Tuesday at the Seabrook Nuclear Power Station in Seabrook, N.H., sent patrons at nearby Hampton Beach scrambling to evacuate before they were advised there was no threat to the public.

The New Hampshire Department of Safety’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management confirmed the “inadvertent siren activation” in a statement.

“There is no emergency at the plant and no danger to the public,” the statement said. “Further information will be released as it becomes available.”

One woman posted a tweet, later deleted, saying her relatives were distraught when they initially heard the siren.

“My Mom, sister, and one-year-old nephew had to sprint terrified from our house into the car — if this was a prank I hope whoever did it is prosecuted,” the woman wrote in the post.

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Others said they had to temporarily evacuate Hampton Beach in Hampton, N.H.

“I just had quite a scare,” one beachgoer tweeted at 12:34 p.m. “I arrived at Hampton Beach, NH, parked in public parking north of the beach when a booming alert came over loud speakers, ‘Attention, the beach is closed. There is a problem at Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant. The Beach is closed...’”

Another person wrote that the false alarm rudely interrupted her vacation on the beach.

“Opposite of a relaxing vacation: having the nuclear power plant accidentally set off an evacuation alarm while [you’re] on the beach with your family,” she tweeted.

Seabrook police, meanwhile, tweeted at 11:21 a.m. that there was no emergency.

“We are in communication with Seabrook Station regarding the sirens being activated,” police wrote. “We are being told that there is NO EMERGENCY but we are continuing to investigate.”

By 1 p.m., things looked normal at Hampton Beach, a perennially packed summer tourist destination. The beach’s live online “beach cam” at 1 p.m. showed scores of people enjoying the midday sun.

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Six Massachusetts communities are in the Emergency Planning Zone of the Seabrook station. The zone is a 10-mile radius around the facility, and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency took to Twitter on Tuesday to assure the public there was no threat.

The power plant serves more than 1 million families in the region, according to the New Hampshire Department of Safety’s website.

“This plant generates approximately 1,244 million watts of electricity per year, enough power to supply the annual needs of approximately 1.2 million families,” the site says. “There are seventeen (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.”

Steve Annear and John R. Ellement of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.


Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.