OAK HARBOR -- Davis-Besse parent company FirstEnergy has revised
its schedule once again, pushing the potential restart date and
pricetag further from original estimates.
As far as restart, the company will say only that the beleaguered
plant is expected to be ready by "fall," according to a statement
released Thursday by First Energy. At a meeting two weeks ago with
the Nuclear Regulatory Commission oversight panel, however, company
officials were fairly confident they could have work completed by
late August or early September.
"That provides what we believe is some room in the schedule to
get the plant ready for restart and still meet the guidance on the
best available information we have right now,"company spokesman
Ralph DiNicola said.
He was alluding to a complaint filed by watchdog group Ohio
Citizen Action with the Securities Exchange Commission, which
alleged FirstEnergy has misled stockholders by continually changing
the startup date.
FirstEnergy officials have denied the allegations, saying they
have given the best data available to stockholders and kept them
With the company finally deciding to modify backup safety pump
equipment rather than replace it, the start date is uncertain,
DiNicola said. Also, a key leak test is scheduled for sometime in
August, and more work is expected for about a month after that, if
no problems are identified.
The pricetag continues to climb as well, with the $12
billion-a-year company realizing that operating and maintenance
expenses were off by $30 million -- the estimate for this year
jumped from $50 million to now $80 million.
The culprit is the pump modification, which wasn't in the picture
at the beginning of the year. Those changes, along with continually
buying replacement power for the off-line plant could push the final
tally above the $500 million mark -- a far cry from initial
estimates more than a year ago when problems were first discovered.
The plant has been shut down since February 2002. Initially, it
started as a routine refueling outage, during which workers were
looking for cracks in nozzles found at other similar nuclear plants.
They found a few of those, along with a massive amount of corrosion
never seen before in other facilities on the reactor head.