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  Thursday, February 13, 2003

 Local News


Taft asked to withdraw D-B support
Mishap response study also sought


Staff writer


PORT CLINTON -- Two watchdog groups want Gov. Taft to withdraw his support of Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station's federally required emergency response plan.

The groups, Ohio Citizen Action and Environmental Health Watch, faxed a letter to the governor Wednesday asking him to withdraw his approval "until weaknesses are addressed and corrected."

They also want a study conducted by an independent, qualified consultant to analyze the response plan at Davis-Besse in Carroll Township and the Perry plant in Lake County -- both owned by FirstEnergy.

The governor's approval of the plan is required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for continued operation, and if Gov. Taft withdraws his support, the license could be thrown into jeopardy.

"We've been worried about it since last summer since we first raised the issue with the county," said Amy Ryder, director of the Cleveland office of Ohio Citizen Action. "When the plan was written it was a different time -- that plan was not created with the thought we might have a hole in the reactor one day or we might have a threat of terrorism."

The plant shut down last

February for a refueling outage, but workers in March found massive amounts of corrosion on the reactor head. The facility has been down ever since and the company has poured more than $400 million into compensating for the off-line plant, as well as for repairs in an attempt to power it back up.

A spokesman for the governor's office said Taft has asked for a briefing on the safety of Davis-Besse with the NRC to take place sometime in the next month.

"The governor is obviously concerned with safety at the plant," said spokesman Orest Holubec. "The governor has been monitoring it very closely."

He declined to comment if Taft would agree to pull his approval, saying the office hasn't had time to review the full recommendation.

Local officials who have worked on the emergency plan extensively, however, are frustrated with Ohio Citizen Action's summation, which is mainly based on a 1986 report by then-Gov. Celeste's office and a 2003 analysis of the response plan for New York nuke plants Indian Point and Millstone.

"One of the very frustrating and aggravating kind of things is somebody who isn't familiar with the plan to go in and look and draw certain conclusions, then not come to us and say 'I read this, is this right?'" said Jim Greer, director of the Ottawa County Emergency Management Agency.

He added that the plan is oversimplified, but there are more than 70 standard operating procedures detailed in the EMA office that tells how to complete the tasks in the plan.

"The plan has to be vague -- they need to look at the standard operating procedures to accomplish the things that the plan says they need to do," Greer said.

Also, the EMA director said the plan has not only been reviewed every year, but has been put in place for much smaller disasters, such as flooding in the 1980s and 1990s, various tornadoes and the Lonz Winery accident.

"We have proven over and over in exercises and in the real world that it works," he said. "We've had 25 years of showing that it works."

Originally published Thursday, February 13, 2003

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