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Posted on Thu, Feb. 27, 2003 story:PUB_DESC
Davis-Besse is closer to restart

FirstEnergy Corp. finished reloading fuel into its Davis-Besse nuclear power plant Wednesday, with the Akron utility calling it a major milestone toward restarting the reactor.

Crews placed the last of 177 fuel assemblies into the reactor vessel Wednesday morning. Each of the assemblies weighs about 1,500 pounds.

The fuel had been removed after the plant was shut down for a safety inspection on Feb. 16, 2002. That inspection in early March found boric acid damage on top of the reactor, and the plant has been kept shut down since.

FirstEnergy said it hopes to get the plant, which is in Oak Harbor, ready to restart by mid-April. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has final say on when the plant will be allowed to start.

With the nuclear fuel in place, Davis-Besse employees next need to install an unused reactor head bought last year from a nuclear plant that never opened. Davis-Besse's damaged reactor head has been removed.

Once the new head is in place, the plant will conduct tests to check for coolant leaks underneath the reactor and to make sure the containment building is properly sealed. Those tests are scheduled for March.

Other projects also are planned to be finished in March, FirstEnergy said.

In addition, the NRC needs to complete its own plant inspections.

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