FirstEnergy has postponed loading fuel into its Davis-Besse
nuclear plant, saying that first, it needs to test backup diesel
generators that can run the Oak Harbor facility in emergencies.
The generators are supposed to kick in if the facility loses
power, as they did in June 1998, when a tornado hit the site.
The Akron utility company initially thought it could start
loading nuclear fuel into the refurbished Davis-Besse reactor last
Friday. Now, the refueling operation will take place either later
this week or next week, FirstEnergy said.
Refueling typically takes less than a week to complete,
First-Energy spokesman Todd Schneider said.
FirstEnergy officials plan to discuss the diesel generators with
the Nuclear Regulatory Commission this week, he said.
``There are a couple of minor issues we're working through,''
Davis-Besse's technical specifications call for the car-size
diesel generators to be fully tested before fuel can be loaded.
Those tests have not yet been done, he said.
FirstEnergy says it needs to refuel Davis-Besse so it can test
whether reactor coolant is leaking from nozzles at the bottom of the
reactor. That weeklong test has been scheduled for March 1.
In the meantime, postponing the refueling will let Davis-Besse
workers perform other tasks inside the containment chamber that
surrounds the reactor, Schneider said.
``It won't impact our schedule,'' he said. FirstEnergy still
plans to have the power plant ready to restart by April 1.
In related news, Davis-Besse will be the topic of Friday's PBS
show, NOW with Bill Moyers.