| Article published Tuesday, September 23, 2003 Davis-Besse could restart in November
The reactor at the Davis-Besse nuclear power
plant could be ready for restart by early November, after the
completion of a cooling system pressure test and system
modifications planned to be done afterward, FirstEnergy said
Work to be done after the pressure test includes
modifying the plantís high pressure injection pumps to improve their
reliability and changes to the electrical system. Once it begins,
this work is expected to take four to six weeks to complete. The
pressure test, which began Sunday, lasts a week and is "an important
milestone in the plantís restart process," the company said in a
Richard Wilkins, a FirstEnergy spokesman,
cautioned that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has the final say
as to when Davis-Besse restarts.
Besides the expected plant
modifications, Mr. Wilkins said, the pressure test is likely to
reveal minor work needing to be done on the cooling system, which
has been idle for 19 months. The pressure test was delayed a week by
problems with a stuck valve and a malfunctioning electric circuit
NRC spokesman Scott Burnell said agency officials
will be reviewing the pressure-test results and discussing all other
progress FirstEnergy has made toward a potential restart at a
monthly NRC oversight committee meeting next month.
Burnell said that as long as FirstEnergy takes all of the steps
required by the commissionís restart procedures, the utilityís
schedule does not concern the NRC.
"Whatever timetable they
have is the timetable we have," the spokesman said.
Lochbaum, a nuclear safety engineer with the Union of Concerned
Scientists, said a November restart "seems achievable" based on the
work FirstEnergy still has to do.
Mr. Lochbaum said his
biggest remaining concern is the "safety culture" at
Investigation of severe corrosion of
Davis-Besseís reactor head, discovered 18 months ago during a
maintenance shutdown, revealed that signs of the reactor headís
decay were either ignored or disregarded, and that employees were
reluctant to voice safety concerns. The reactor head has since been
Mr. Lochbaum said heíd feel more confident if there
were some sort of NRC "safety culture" criteria that had to be met.
At the very least, Mr. Lochbaum said, the NRC needs to be more
diligent in ensuring that FirstEnergy follows its operating
"The good news about Davis-Besse is that itís
gotten some extra attention now," Mr. Lochbaum said.
safety culture at Davis-Besse will be the subject of an Oct. 1
meeting at the NRCís regional office in Chicago. The NRCís
Davis-Besse oversight committee is scheduled to meet Oct. 7 at Camp
Perry, near Port Clinton.