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NRC Outlines Plans For Post-Davis-Besse Recommendations
Friday March 28, 5:31 pm ET

CHICAGO (Dow Jones)--The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has outlined " action plans" for implementing recommendations the agency developed to help nuclear plants avoid the kind of corrosion problem found at FirstEnergy Corp.'s (FE) Davis-Besse plant in Ohio last year.

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In a release Thursday, the NRC said progress on implementing 21 high priority recommendations developed by the agency's "Lessons Learned Task Force" on the Davis-Besse problem will be updated quarterly. Progress on the other 30 recommendations generated by the task force will be reviewed on a semiannual basis, with the first report due in August.

Recommendations from the task force, released late last year, include reviewing requirements for leak monitoring systems, strengthening inspection guidance and training, and reviewing NRC programs for collecting, evaluating and disseminating operating experience information, among many others.

Davis-Besse was plunged into a long and expensive outage by the March 2002 discovery of a deeply corroded hole in the reactor's carbon steel lid. It was caused by corrosive coolant leaking from a cracked control rod tube that passes through the lid.

The corrosion discovery raised questions throughout the industry, as there are 68 other pressurized water reactors in the U.S. that, like Davis-Besse, use corrosive boric acid in their cooling systems. The corrosion problem also touched off criticism from political officials and watchdog groups, who have said the NRC was too lax with FirstEnergy and should have found the problem earlier.

The NRC task force recommendations are designed to help the industry and the agency better prevent and detect such corrosion problems. Separately, the agency has already bolstered inspection requirements for other pressurized water reactor owners.

The prospect of more expensive inspections has caused several owners, including Dominion Resources Inc. , Duke Energy Corp. and FPL Group Inc. , to plan preemptive reactor lid replacements.

FirstEnergy chose to replace Davis-Besse's damaged lid last year as part of the plant's extensive repair plan. The company currently estimates that repair work at Davis-Besse will be completed by the end of April.

-By Jon Kamp, Dow Jones Newswires; 312-750-4129; jon.kamp@dowjones.com

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