The Nuclear Regulatory Commission should stick to its
detailed inspection process and not rush to meet a Davis-Besse
Nuclear Power Station restart date targeted by FirstEnergy.
Let us know what you think. Information about getting your
opinions published appears at the bottom of this
Delays in the targeted restart of the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power
Station are not a bad thing.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission reported this week that
inspections at the Ottawa County plant could delay FirstEnergy
Corp.'s target for an April restart by a month or more.
In fact, the NRC has inspections planned through April and May,
and these inspections must meet the approval of a Nuclear Regulatory
Commission panel before the plant can restart.
The plant has been shut down since February 2002 when it was
closed for maintenance. A month later, a leak was discovered that
had allowed boric acid to eat nearly through the 6-inch-thick steel
cap covering the plant's reactor vessel.
Since then, a series of revelations and concerns has eroded
confidence in the plant itself, the nuclear power industry and the
NRC, which is charged with regulating the industry.
This confidence must be restored and a rush to restart the
facility won't do that.
Although FirstEnergy still contends that the plant will be ready
in April, Brian Sheron, NRC associate director of project licensing,
said, "The bottom line is, we're not working for the licensee's
schedule. The licensee may be ready to start up long before the
agency is willing to say they've corrected all the deficiencies
which led to this ..."
An inspection for leaks at the bottom of the reactor will not be
done until mid- to late March.
Inspections to make sure that Davis-Besse's management and staff
have improved their safety awareness will continue through May.
That's a difficult thing to measure. While the physical problems and
corrections can be seen with a visual inspection, the attitude
problems and attempts at improvement require interpretation as well
We hope that the NRC sticks to its guns and doesn't yield to any
pressure to advance the restart before regulators are convinced that
the plant is safe and will continue to be.
Originally published Wednesday, February 26, 2003