(Reuters) - FirstEnergy Corp. (nyse: FE
will not be ready to ask nuclear regulators to restart its troubled
Davis-Besse nuclear power station in Ohio until late September, a
company spokesman said Wednesday.
Davis-Besse has missed repeated restart targets
since it closed 17 months ago after inspectors discovered that boric
acid leaking through cracks in the reactor vessel head had chewed a
hole through the 6-inch-thick steel lid.
The company had previously estimated that delays in
putting Davis-Besse back in operation would likely cost FirstEnergy
more than $400 million, including the cost of buying electricity to
replace the plant's 925 megawatts of generating capacity -- power
for about 900,000 homes.
Ohio-based First Energy, which replaced the damaged lid, said in
June that it still aimed to restart the plant in August, but a key
weeklong test required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission won't
begin until the middle of August, according to company spokesman
The test of
the operating pressure and temperature in Davis-Besse's atomic
reactor and cooling pipes is needed to ensure there are no leaks in
Wilkins said the
seven-day test will be followed by a month's worth of additional
work. "It will probably be mid- to late September to complete the
work and ask the NRC for a restart," Wilkins
The NRC has the final say
on when Davis-Besse can resume commercial power production, and the
agency's restart process may take one to three weeks, said Jan
Strasma, an NRC spokesman.
"There remains an extensive amount of work to be
done," Strasma said.
FirstEnergy must complete 18 more steps in a
31-item "restart checklist" before the NRC can make a decision on
the restart, he added.
includes an ongoing investigation of the "safety culture" at
Davis-Besse and tests of modified high-pressure pumps that would
provide cooling water to the reactor in an
The NRC's Strasma
also said two public meetings are planned to discuss the safety
culture issue but no dates have been set. He said the NRC must give
two weeks' notice before a public meeting can be
"The NRC intends to keep
any delay in the restart process as minimal as possible, if in fact
the plant is ready to start up," Strasma said.
FirstEnergy said last week that its nuclear power
business will get a new boss on Sept. 1, when Gary Leidich,
executive vice president of FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co., moves
up to president and chief nuclear officer.
Leidich will replace Robert Saunders, who will
retire next Feb. 1. Saunders will work with Leidich on the
Davis-Besse restart, the company said.
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