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October 17, 2003

 



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Regional News | Article published Friday, October 17, 2003
Attorney seeks injunction to stop Davis-Besse restart

By TOM HENRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER


A Toledo attorney asked a judge in Ottawa County Common Pleas Court yesterday to stop Davis-Besse’s restart efforts.

Howard Whitcomb III, in a 70-page request for a preliminary injunction against FirstEnergy Corp., contended the utility has knowingly operated the Ottawa County nuclear plant in an unsafe manner for years and has intentionally side-stepped regulations written to safeguard the public.

He asked Judge Paul C. Moon to grant the motion and keep it in effect until all issues have been resolved, some of which relate to the plant’s original design. "If you look at the totality of that situation, the margin of safety is almost wiped out," Mr. Whitcomb said. "We’re asking for a complete review."

The motion is part of a wrongful-termination case Mr. Whitcomb has filed against FirstEnergy on behalf of William N. Keisler, a former nuclear contractor from South Carolina.

Richard Wilkins, a FirstEnergy spokesman, said the utility had not received a copy of the motion. He had little to say, other than to question whether Common Pleas Court, a state court, is the proper venue.

Nuclear plants are regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a federal agency.

"I guess you could file anything you want. We’ll just see how the judge rules on it," Mr. Wilkins said.

Mr. Whitcomb said he has found nothing in the law that would restrict the power of a state judge from intervening. "The NRC is just a regulatory body. It is not a tribunal or a court," he said.

He said he filed the motion in local court partly because his client believes some issues brought to the NRC’s attention were ignored. "Should the NRC look at this? Absolutely. But that’s only one avenue. My position is this is a states’ rights issue," Mr. Whitcomb said.

Both Mr. Whitcomb and Mr. Keisler worked at Davis-Besse in the late 1980s.

Mr. Whitcomb was employed by Toledo Edison Co. as a Davis-Besse preventive maintenance program manager. He previously was a resident inspector for the NRC at a South Carolina nuclear plant. He became a lawyer in the early 1990s.

Mr. Keisler was at Davis-Besse as a contractor, first as president of BKE, Inc., then as president of its successor, Nuclear Maintenance Integration Consultants Corp.

Mr. Keisler has sued FirstEnergy, claiming violations of state and federal whistleblower laws, breach of contract, fraud, and negligence.

For earlier stories on Davis-Besse, go to www.toledoblade.com/davisbesse




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