CAMP PERRY -- The future of coolant safety pumps at Davis-Besse
Nuclear Power Station dominated much of the talk at a Tuesday
monthly meeting between utility officials and federal regulators.
The equipment, called high-pressure injection pumps, has nothing
wrong with it per se, but plant officials want to modify or replace
the pumps because of the remote chance they would get clogged during
"We feel it will gain us reliable margin, and it's the right
thing to do," said FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co. Chief Operating
Officer Lew Myers, who added the decision is weeks off and will be
based on simulations on a mock-up of the pumps.
The plant has been off-line since last February when during a
routine refueling outage employees stumbled upon massive corrosion
on the reactor head that has dwarfed anything seen before it.
Since then, workers have been working for more than a year,
fixing physical problems with the plant, as well as management and
safety oriented issues in hopes of restarting sometime during the
The HPI pumps are a major hurdle, though. In the event of an
accident gushing coolant would chunk debris off of equipment, peel
paint off the walls and produce other types of debris that officials
worry could clog the pumps and cause them to shut down.
The pumps are used to keep circulating water to cool down the
extremely hot equipment in the reactor containment area.
A representative of Framatome, the supplier who secured two
replacement pumps from an unfinished nuclear plant for FirstEnergy,
was on hand to talk about the possibility of replacement versus
"We would have to remove the existing pumps and motors, which is
not an easy task by any means," George Beam told Nuclear Regulatory
The other option would be to modify the pumps with a screen
welded inside a valve to prevent clogging.
"We've got to focus on what are the advantages and disadvantages
of each approach," said Myers. "We've got to find the right
technical ...approach for the plant."
Meanwhile, workers at Davis-Besse are making progress in fixing
major and minor issues outside the containment building, but are
still meeting some obstacles along the way.
One item program managers are still working on is the Corrective
Action program, said Fred von Ahn, the new vice president of FENOC
While he said the program -- which looks at reports made by
workers and identifies ways to correct problems -- is effective,
it's not identifying all the issues.
That's why senior management started internal assessments,
putting them into a database to look for trends in problems. They
also created Condition Report analysts to look over the initial
reports and identify trends.
NRC officials continue to inspect the plant, too, in various
stages of completion for several different programs and have closed
out two items on the Davis-Besse restart checklist -- the ultimate
guide to what needs to be finished before restart.
Company officials, too, are still looking toward a test of
several systems to be completed in mid-June, which would test the
new reactor head as well as the bottom of the reactor for leaks.
Originally published Wednesday, May 7, 2003