| Article published Wednesday, August 13, 2003|
FirstEnergy officials list reactor
Regulators told 16 concerns
By GEORGE J. TANBER
OAK HARBOR, Ohio - Three hours of briefings and
questioning yesterday between federal regulators and officials from
the company that operates the closed Davis-Besse nuclear plant
failed to answer the question at the top of everyone’s
When, exactly, is the plant going to
"Sometime this fall, I would guess," said Lew Myers,
chief operating officer of FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co., which
manages Davis-Besse. "Unless something breaks we don’t
Mr. Myers made his comments while on a break
during the monthly public meeting between officials with FirstEnergy
Nuclear Operating Co. and members of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory
Commission oversight panel in the auditorium of Oak Harbor High
The panel is charged with overseeing repairs at the
plant, where it was discovered that the reactor head was nearly
breached in February, 2002, closing Davis-Besse for the last 19
Pasted on the auditorium wall was a chart listing 31
actions the panel has instructed FirstEnergy to complete before the
agency will consider approving Davis-Besse’s reopening. Sixteen are
completed, panel members said yesterday.
Pointing to the
chart, Mr. Myers said many of the remaining 15 actions are nearly
completed, helping fuel the optimism that was prevalent among
FirstEnergy officials as they explained their progress to the six
"We’re about 80 percent there," he
By the end of the month, Mr. Myers said, FirstEnergy
will be ready to implement a seven-day test of the reactor’s cooling
system. During the test, the reactor will not be started, but normal
operating pressures and temperatures will be reached to affect
adequate simulation of normal reactor operating conditions, panel
Despite the apparent progress by FirstEnergy,
Jack Grobe, the panel’s chairman, told company officials he was
being cautious in his evaluation of the company’s
Mr. Grobe said FirstEnergy is taking steps
to correct equipment, electrical, staffing, safety, and other
concerns appear to be on target, but the crucial question is whether
the measures will last.
"Do we have confidence that
[Davis-Besse] will continue to be safe in the future," Mr. Grobe
asked. "I want them to explain to us why they have confidence [it
Yesterday’s meeting demonstrated why Davis-Besse has
been shut down so long. Every action is scrutinized, and every new
part or piece of equipment, no matter how small, is tested and
Bob Schrauder of FirstEnergy spent more than 30
minutes detailing the purchase and application of a bearing design
from a French company.
The new bearing is significant because
it will do a better job of protecting the reactor’s high-pressure
injection pumps from being damaged by debris that strainers fail to
catch, as happened in the past, Mr. Schrauder said.
near the top of the technical item list. It’s something that has to
be fixed before the plant can start up," said regulatory commission
spokesman Jan Strasma.
Mr. Strasma said when Mr. Grobe’s
panel signs off on FirstEnergy’s checklist, the director of the
regulatory commission’s Region III office in Lisle, Ill., will
decide when Davis-Besse can reopen, after getting the OK from
officials at commission headquarters in Rockville, Md.
is a big deal so, obviously, there is a lot of coordinating to do,"
But don’t ask the panel members when the plant will
be up and running. "They don’t know when it will open. That’s up to
the Davis-Besse group," Mr. Strasma said.