A consultant hired by FirstEnergy Corp. to look at the ``safety
culture'' at the company's Davis-Besse nuclear power plant found
some changes for the better, but her report said a lot of work
remains to make the plant as safe as it should be.
The report, released to the public Friday by the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission, said in-depth surveys of Davis-Besse
employees -- including managers, conducted in February show that
while safety is valued at FirstEnergy and Davis-Besse, not everyone
accepts or understands it.
In order to be allowed to restart the 883 megawatt plant,
FirstEnergy has to prove to the NRC that it is improving safety at
Davis-Besse, which has been closed since March 2002 when severe
corrosion created byboric-acid was discovered on top of the reactor.
The company and NRC have each accepted blame for allowing the
unprecedented boric acid corrosion to take place over years, risking
the likelihood of a dangerous loss of coolant accident if it had not
The plant may not be ready to restart until July, pending NRC
approval, and FirstEnergy likely will pay well more than $400
million to make repairs and to buy replacement power.
The safety culture evaluation report, which was given to
FirstEnergy and the NRC weeks ago, was done by Performance, Safety,
and Health Associates Inc. The report was spearheaded by New
York-based consultant Sonja Haber and is intended as a snapshot of
plant workers and managers in February. Haber and associates said
661 out of the plant's 830 full-time personnel agreed to take part
in their survey.
The report's findings include:
• Many personnel feel that senior
managers have not acknowledged their own accountability and
responsibility for the reactor corrosion, at least in part by
letting some managers directly involved in the event stay with the
organization even if they were reassigned to other positions or
• Not all individuals readily
accept responsibility and take ownership of problems.
• Safety is not consistently
integrated into all activities in the organization.
• The organization, across the
board, has to better learn from past performances.
FirstEnergy and Davis-Besse have already begun improving safety
culture, including creating a department to oversee safety culture
headed by the former Davis-Besse plant manager, spokesman Richard
``We know we did have, and do have, work to do,'' Wilkins said.
``What we weren't looking for (in the report) was a pat on the
FirstEnergy was looking for validation that the company had
processes in place to improve safety culture, he said. And the
report shows that is the case in most instances, he said.
Davis-Besse and FirstEnergy nuclear operating company managers
are still going through the report, he said.
A separate survey done by FirstEnergy showed many of the same
issues raised in the report, Wilkins said. The survey also showed
considerable improvement in employee safety culture, he said.
FirstEnergy has replaced 23 of the top 25 senior managers at
Davis-Besse and within its nuclear operating company subsidiary,
Wilkins said. Some of those managers were demoted or assigned to
other FirstEnergy plants with reduced responsibility, while others
left the company entirely, he said.
That may not be good enough for some.
Amy Ryder, Cleveland program director for watchdog group Ohio
Citizen Action, which has been working to prevent Davis-Besse from
restarting, said after reading the Haber report she doubts the
current FirstEnergy management can address the problems outlined in
Meanwhile, the NRC is evaluating FirstEnergy's safety culture
efforts, commission spokesman Jan Strasma said. An inspection team
will continue to evaluate the company's safety culture efforts at
least through the end of next week, he said.
``We're not trying to determine safety culture ourselves, but
what FirstEnergy is doing about safety culture,'' Strasma said.
``The safety culture issue is an underlying issue at