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  Saturday, August 30, 2003

 Local News

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Ex-contractor files suit vs. FirstEnergy

Staff writer

PORT CLINTON -- A former consultant for the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station has filed suit against its parent company, FirstEnergy, alleging his contract was wrongfully terminated 15 years ago.

William Keisler of Leesville, S.C., filed the lawsuit via Toledo lawyer Howard Whitcomb III on Friday in Ottawa County Common Pleas Court. He is asking for in excess of $150,000, as well as punitive damages and an order from a judge requiring greater safety-related equipment inspections.

Keisler, a mechanical engineer, says in the suit that he was brought on to the Davis-Besse team in 1986 after a loss of auxiliary feedwater event that shut the plant down for 18 months.

Originally, he was asked to assist in the maintenance and engineering departments in devising a report for the preventative maintenance programs.

Specifically, he was to help the outfit tailor a review of safety-related components for Davis-Besse employees.

The suit states that because Keisler performed so well at those tasks, he was assigned additional duties involving preventative maintenance in January 1987.

It was more than 18 months after that, however, when the report was completed that a plant superior asked him to "suppress certain information which had a direct impact upon nuclear safety requirements, and he was ordered to resubmit a modified or 'sanitized' report," the suit claims.

Keisler refused, and he claims the company terminated his contract for it on Sept. 8, 1988. Toledo Edison, which operated Davis-Besse at the time, then released a modified report on Oct. 31, 1988.

FirstEnergy Spokesman Richard Wilkins said Keisler was hired on to write a report required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission but added the report was not sufficient.

"He eventually did submit a report, but it did not meet the requirements that Toledo Edison had asked for in terms of what the regulators would want."

Wilkins added: "The report had some good information in it, but it wasn't the right information."

The lawsuit claims that the modified report was that kind of action that eventually resulted in the corrosion found on the reactor head, which has shuttered the plant for more than a year.

Plant personnel continue to work to fix problems found once Davis-Besse shut down in February 2002 for a routine refueling.

The suit claims the plant can't restart until the issues are resolved with Keisler. The South Carolina resident is claiming violations of the federal whistle-blower regulations, as well as wrongful termination, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and breach of contract.

Wilkins said Keisler filed a suit against the company years ago in another jurisdiction in Ohio, but dropped it before it got very far.

Originally published Saturday, August 30, 2003

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