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January 07, 2003

 



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Regional News | Article published Tuesday, January 7, 2003
DAVIS-BESSE
Taft asks NRC for full briefing before startup
FirstEnergy plans February test to show reactor is sound

By
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU


COLUMBUS - Gov. Bob Taft has asked the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a full briefing on the Davis-Besse nuclear plant before FirstEnergy Corp. is permitted to restart the reactor.

"We intend to meet the governorís needs," Roland Lickus, of the NRCís regional office near Chicago, told the Utility Radiological Safety Board of Ohio yesterday.

The board, consisting of representatives of the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, Department of Health, and other state agencies, monitors Davis-Besse near Oak Harbor, Perry near Cleveland, and Beaver Valley just over the Pennsylvania border near Pittsburgh, all nuclear plants operated by FirstEnergy.

FirstEnergy has replaced Davis-Besseís cracked reactor head and made related and unrelated repairs. But it has to convince the NRC that it has corrected the management and maintenance problems that allowed damage from boric acid leaks to go undetected.

The acid ate through six inches of steel, leaving less than a quarter-inch of stainless steel liner. The plant has been idle nearly a year.

Pat McCloskey of Davis-Besse told the board that FirstEnergy plans to refill the water reactor on Jan. 18 and begin a seven-day heat and pressure test during the third week of February. This test will not involve a nuclear reaction.

FirstEnergy hopes that will convince the NRC that Davis-Besse is at least structurally sound. It hopes to restart the reactor as early as late March.

"Our special oversight does not end at Davis-Besse startup, ..." Mr. Lickus said. "It will end when that [oversight] panel feels we can return Davis-Besse to our regular inspection program, whenever that may be."

The NRC does not need the governorís permission to approve the restart of the reactor.

"The governor realizes itís a federal function, but there has been a great deal of concern on the part of the people of Ohio, and he is concerned about the safety of the people of Ohio," said Taft spokesman Joe Andrews.

FirstEnergy expects to take a hit this week when the NRC releases the results, possibly as early as today, of its investigation into an unrelated incident last February.

Four contract workers were allowed to leave the nuclear plant with radioactive particles on their clothing. Although the company immediately began clean-up procedures, it waited 150 days to investigate what impact the contamination may have had on the workers.

"It appears, by good fortune if nothing else, that the individuals did not receive exposure above federal limits," Mr. McCloskey said. The plant has since changed its procedures and installed three "highly sensitive" monitors to check workers as they exit.



More articles on this subject Ľ
Investigators allege NRC put profit first 01/04/2003
Davis-Besse woes help spur nuke-plant confab 01/01/2003
Reactor study isnít a surprise to utilities 12/26/2002
Davis-Besse whittles down list of safety issues 12/24/2002
Plant neighbors to get radiation-fighting pills 12/19/2002

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