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  Tuesday, July 1, 2003

 Local News


Ohio Citizen Action calls for SEC to investigate FirstEnergy


Staff writer


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 management.

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 discovered.

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, http://www.sec.gov/

Originally published Tuesday, July 1, 2003

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