Radioactive particles on the clothing of five contract workers
who left the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant last spring have cost
owner FirstEnergy Corp. $400,000 for new monitoring equipment.
The Akron-based utility also created what it calls a radiation
protection department under the supervision of Davis-Besse's former
operations manager, and it recalibrated some existing monitors, said
spokesman Todd Schneider.
The measures also move the company closer to restarting the
plant, which has been shut down since March, when serious problems
with leaking boric acid were found.
The new department and its manager are part of what Schneider
described as a reorganization that ``basically was done to make sure
we had the right talents at Davis-Besse to successfully return that
plant to safe and reliable service.''
The company has acknowledged that its previous management team
was more focused on production goals than safety.
``We have done much work with all of our employees to make sure
they understood the problem, what caused it and what they could have
done to prevent it,'' Schneider said.
He said six positions have been added to the plant's organization
chart, which now includes a separate engineering structure.
All but four of the plant's 23 top positions have been changed,
with many slots being filled by managers from FirstEnergy's plants
in Perry, Ohio, and Beaver Valley, Pa. Davis-Besse is in Oak Harbor
on the Lake Erie shore.
Schneider said 10 formerDavis-Besse managers have left the
company. Others have been reassigned. Schneider said there has been
little turnover among the rest of Davis-Besse's 800 employees, about
half of whom are unionized.
FirstEnergy's new radiation protection measures remove one more
item from a checklist of safety issues that the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission says must be addressed before the plant can be
Schneider said only seven or eight items remain, and the company
is still predicting that the plant will be restarted by the end of
A routine maintenance inspection of Davis-Besse in March 2002
found that leaking boric acid had nearly corroded through the
6-inch-thick steel cap that covers the plant's reactor vessel.
The particles on the workers' clothing were brought to
Davis-Besse's attention in March, Schneider said. The five workers
left Davis-Besse on Feb. 20 after working inside the plant's steam
They went on to work at a plant in South Carolina, where the
particles were detected.
Subsequent inspections found particles in hotel rooms and homes
in Ohio, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.
There was no threat to the public, the NRC said in an earlier
The exposure violated three regulations, but NRC spokesman Jan
Strasma said it is unlikely the agency would fine FirstEnergy. The
agency's primary concern was to ensure the plant acted to correct
the problems, he said.
Federal inspectors said plant operators should have checked the
workers more thoroughly.
Schneider said this was the first such incident for
The NRC also is investigating the boric acid leaks. An NRC report
issued last month said agency officials suspected there could be
leaks at the plant, but they allowed it to stay open because they
thought there was little risk.
It was the most extensive corrosion discovered at a U.S. nuclear