Davis-Besse startup at core of complaint
A citizen watchdog group wants the Securities and Exchange
Commission to investigate and prosecute the owners of the
Davis-Besse plant for allegedly misleading stockholders.
Ohio Citizen Action Cleveland Director Amy Ryder sent a letter
late last week to the director of enforcement at the SEC, asking for
action against FirstEnergy Corp. and its officials.
A FirstEnergy spokeswoman on Monday denied the accusations,
saying information was released as soon as it became known to
The Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Carroll Township has
been off-line for more than a year after workers identified massive
corrosion on the reactor head. Since then, several other problems
have arisen, including what management called lapses in the safety
culture among workers and middle management.
The citizen group is focusing on the two years prior to corrosion
problems becoming public, however. It's alleging that FirstEnergy
misled the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about the condition of the
plant when an industry-wide request was distributed to look for
corrosion issues in late 2001.
"By misleading and lying to the NRC in fall of 2001, FirstEnergy
gave stockholders misleading information that Davis-Besse was in
safe working condition," Ryder wrote.
Ryder's letter, too, alleged that the parent company has
repeatedly misled the stockholders about the plant's restart date,
which has changed multiple times in the past year.
FirstEnergy spokeswoman Ellen Raines said the company can only
disclose what it is aware of.
"I think it's clear that FirstEnergy has been nothing but
forthright in our disclosure of issues related to Davis-Besse," she
said Monday. "We can only disclose what our management is aware of,
and as soon as we were aware we made all the proper disclosures."
Raines added that the company has been involved in 31 public
meetings, and released 21 news releases since the damage was
A spokesman at the SEC would not comment about any possible
investigation, but did say the department takes information from a
variety of sources and any action would likely post on its Web site,
Originally published Tuesday, July 1, 2003