Nuclear power news
Jan - Feb, 2003

Feb 27: Nuclear damage is not covered, State Farm says

BLOOMINGTON, IL -- "State Farm Insurance Co., the nation's largest auto insurer, is mailing notices to its 40 million policyholders informing them they are not covered against nuclear blasts and radiation damage. State Farm joined a host of companies in excluding nuclear-related auto claims amid heightened fear over terrorism. State Farm, based in Bloomington, said nuclear blasts or radioactive damage are not normal road hazards and are not covered," Associated Press.

OAK HARBOR -- "Loading of fuel complete at Besse; New reactor head next step for plant," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

AKRON -- "Davis-Besse is closer to restart," Akron Beacon Journal.

Feb 26: FirstEnergy plant releases radiation
Beaver Valley facility vents mix of tritium, steam into atmosphere

AKRON -- "FirstEnergy's Beaver Valley Unit 1 nuclear plant shut down suddenly Monday afternoon, releasing a small amount of radiation into the atmosphere. FirstEnergy now has two of its four nuclear reactors off-line. . . Workers bumped scaffolding into a steam line valve, forcing the valve to close and shut off a steam line that leads to the plant's power turbine, [FirstEnergy spokesman Todd] Schneider said. A diaphragm in the valve needs to be replaced, he said," Jim Mackinnon, Akron Beacon Journal.

OAK HARBOR -- "NRC rates corrosion one of worst violations; Operator may face agency’s largest fine,," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

OAK HARBOR -- "Repairs key to engineer’s case; Work sought by ex-employee would cost more, delay restart," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

CLEVELAND -- "Davis-Besse lid could have burst in 1 to 2 years," John Mangels, John Funk, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

PORT CLINTON -- "Inspections must not be rushed for FirstEnergy," editorial, Port Clinton News Herald.

Feb 25: NRC tests may delay reopening of plant

WASHINGTON, DC -- "Nuclear regulators say the damaged Davis-Besse nuclear power plant near Toledo might not reopen until May or later. That would pose a new setback to FirstEnergy Corp., which is spending $10 million to $12 million a month on replacement electricity for its customers. Davis-Besse has been closed since last February, when it shut down for a government-requested inspection that turned up an unprecedented corrosion hole in the reactor's thick steel lid," Stephen Koff, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

ROCKVILLE, MD -- "NRC holds to inspection of all Besse-type reactor heads," Michael Woods, Toledo Blade.

Feb 22:

AKRON -- "Davis-Besse's troubles costly for FirstEnergy," Fremont News-Messenger.

Feb 21: Davis-Besse gets low grades
Agency criticizes nuclear plant for letting contaminated workers leave

WASHINGTON, DC -- "The NRC has said the workers never should have been allowed out of the plant with the particles on them. While the workers received relatively low radiation dosages, the radiation levels probably exceeded the amount workers are allowed to be exposed to in one year's time, the NRC said. Two of the workers 'potentially received a relatively large amount of internal contamination,' the NRC concluded," Akron Beacon Journal.

ROCKVILLE, MD -- "NRC looking at complaint about Davis-Besse; Ex-worker says plant knew of leak in 1998," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Feb 20: Now on-line: Internal investigation interviews
Why the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission gave Davis-Besse a 2001 green-light

WASHINGTON, DC -- "Guy Campbell [FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company, FENOC] said FENOC staff first met with Senate representatives (Andrew Wheeler [Sen. George Voinovich (Ohio)], Marty Hall [Sen. Bob Smith (New Hampshire)], and one other individual). He said FENOC personnel then met with Congressman [Paul] Gillmor (5th District, Ohio) and his staff. Campbell said the purpose of these meetings was to make the elected officials aware of the issues and the potential impact of a shutdown in their districts. He said he did not ask the representatives to take specific action related to the matter, nor did the representatives make any commitments to take action. Campbell said he would not be surprised if Senator Voinovich (R - Ohio) telephoned NRC Chairman Richard Meserve a day or two after FENOC's meetings on Capitol Hill," NRC documents obtained by the Union of Concerned Scientists through a Freedom of Information Act request.

ROCKVILLE, MD -- "U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission executive took word of Davis-Besse's owners," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

WASHINGTON, DC -- "Nuclear agency says it wasn't affected by politics," Stephen Koff, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

AKRON -- "Davis-Besse loads fuel into reactor," Akron Beacon Journal.

Feb 19: Engineer says utility ignored rust
Fired employee files whistleblower papers

OAK HARBOR -- "FirstEnergy Corp. knew at least as early as 1998 that boric acid was leaking from inside the nuclear reactor at the Davis-Besse plant and was corroding the reactor vessel head, a recently fired plant engineer charged in a federal whistleblower complaint filed yesterday. The 24-page document, submitted to the U.S. Department of Labor and obtained by The Blade, claims fired engineer Andrew Siemaszko, had been urging the utility to clean rust from the plant’s reactor head almost from the day he was hired in 1999 as a lead nuclear systems engineer with a FirstEnergy subsidiary. When he and a crew of workers were finally allowed to work on the problem during the plant’s 2000 refueling outage, the complaint claims, there was so much rust accumulated on the reactor head that workers used crowbars to pry it off," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade

Full text: "Andrew Siemaszko, complainant, v. First Energy Nuclear Operating Company, respondent," U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (181 KB pdf).

OAK HARBOR -- "Besse engineer says warnings ignored," John Funk, John Mangels, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Feb 16: NRC cuts would be foolish

WASHINGTON, DC -- "The discovery of a pineapple-sized hole in the lid of Davis Besse nuclear power plant last year demonstrates the need for more government oversight of nuclear reactors, not less. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission thinks otherwise. It's asking Congress for another shrunken safety and maintenance budget. Although the proposed employee reductions are hardly draconian, they are nonetheless unacceptable. As submitted, the 2004 budget would chop the agency's main reactor licensing program, which works with plant operators. That's 31 of the 405 employees it expects to have by budget time," Editorial, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Feb 15: Regulator flip-flopped on Davis-Besse shutdown

ROCKVILLE, MD -- "U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission staffers received a memo on Nov. 21, 2001, summarizing a meeting that day between [NRC's nuclear reactor regulation director Sam] Collins and Robert Saunders, president of FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co., the utility’s nuclear subsidiary. The inspector general's office has claimed that meeting was pivotal to the decision Mr. Collins ultimately made - meeting the utility halfway and letting it keep operating Davis-Besse until Feb. 16, 2002. . . Investigators have said they were stunned to learn no record exists of the meeting in which Mr. Collins announced his decision: After months of interviews, they said they weren’t even able to ascertain how many -- let alone which -- NRC officials attended it," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade

Feb 14: FirstEnergy plant shock to earnings

AKRON -- "The hole in the Davis-Besse nuclear reactor burned a hole in owner FirstEnergy Corp.'s earnings. The Akron utility said Thursday that it lost $30.8 million, or 10 cents a share, for the fourth quarter ending Dec. 31, after it had to pay $97 million in costs related to the troubled plant and had to write down other assets," Jim Mackinnon, Akron Beacon Journal

WASHINGTON, DC -- "NRC watchdog issues warning on nuclear risks," Stephen Koff, Tom Diemer, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

WASHINGTON, DC -- "Nuclear agency to test defenses of Indian Point nuclear plant with assault drill," Randal Archibold, New York Times.

Feb 13: Two citizens groups seek review of Ohio nuclear emergency plans

CLEVELAND -- "'Given everything that has happened . . . it makes sense for the governor to have a similar review' to the Witt report [on New York's Indian Point nuclear plant], said Stuart Greenberg, director of Environmental Health Watch and a longtime member of the Cuyahoga County Emergency Planning Committee. 'This is not intended to impugn the professional competence, dedication and hard work of emergency responders,'" John Mangels, John Funk, Cleveland Plain Dealer

OAK HARBOR -- "Activist groups criticize plan to evacuate Davis-Besse," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

PORT CLINTON -- "Taft asked to withdraw Davis-Besse support; Mishap response study also sought," Jennifer Funk, Port Clinton News Herald.

WASHINGTON, DC -- "In face of inspection woes, NRC keeps cutting staff," Stephen Koff, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

WASHINGTON, DC -- "Federal regulators step up inspection requirements for nuclear plants," Malia Rulon, Associated Press.

Feb 12: New review finds plan outdated, unrealistic:
Taft urged to pull state approval for Davis-Besse emergency plan

CLEVELAND -- "Both the likelihood of a nuclear release and the magnitude of such a release may now be far greater than government officials originally anticipated in developing the emergency plan for Davis-Besse. . . . if there were a rupture in the reactor (as might have occurred if the hole in the reactor head had not been discovered) or a successful terrorist attack at Davis-Besse, there would be very little time to evaluate the radiological release, decide on appropriate protective action, warn the community, and expect people to respond accordingly. Instead, there could be chaos. It is this type of release scenario — an unanticipated, massive equipment failure, or successful terrorist attack resulting in the rapid release of a large amount of radioactive contamination -- that now needs to be the basis for emergency response planning," Amy Ryder, Cleveland Director, Ohio Citizen Action; Stu Greenberg, Executive Director, Environmental Health Watch.

Letter to Gov. Bob Taft, Amy Ryder, February 12, 2003 (22 KB .doc).

PORT CLINTON -- "Better checks ordered at nuclear plants," John Funk, John Mangels, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

PORT CLINTON -- "Davis-Besse flaw disclosed; FirstEnergy details decades-old problem with part of cooling system," Jim Mackinnon, Akron Beacon Journal.

PORT CLINTON -- "Davis-Besse plans to restart with non-nuclear test," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

CAMP PERRY -- "FirstEnergy confronts retribution accusations," Jennifer Funk, Port Clinton News Herald.

Feb 11: Besse's emergency system bad from start

CLEVELAND -- "The report, prepared by FirstEnergy Corp. for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in mid-December, says that in an accident, debris could have choked off the flow of water to the plant's emergency coolant pumps and water sprays. That equipment - intended to keep the reactor's radioactive core from melting and to wash radioactive particles from the air inside the protective containment building - may not have worked properly or at all in certain conditions. . . . [Hal Ornstein, a retired NRC senior safety analyst] said the report 'contains the admission that Davis-Besse would most probably have melted' if there had been a loss-of-coolant accident," John Mangels, John Funk, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Feb 10: When will Davis-Besse be safe to restart? Ask FirstEnergy.

CLEVELAND -- FirstEnergy's investors, creditors, and bond rating agencies are getting impatient to find out the restart date for the trouble-plagued Davis-Besse nuclear reactor. Ohio Citizen Action has prepared a handy guide for figuring out the restart date.

Feb 7:
WASHINGTON, DC -- "Fix Davis-Besse, but reject Kucinich 'help'," Editorial, The Lorain Morning Journal.

Feb 6: Nuke plants aging disgracefully

SAN FRANCISCO -- "Davis-Besse is just one of the nuclear power plants built in the 1960s and '70s that are showing signs of wear and tear. Equipment intended to last as long as some plants' 40-year licenses is breaking in areas not anticipated when the plants were built. . . . In the last 15 years, about 22 nuclear reactors have ceased operating, Lochbaum said. Several of these plants were closed because owners didn't want to pay to repair or replace aging equipment. The Trojan Nuclear Plant closed its doors in 1993, when Portland General Electric decided not to replace an aging steam generator, which would have cost more than $100 million to repair," Kendra Mayfield, Wired News.

WASHINGTON, DC -- "NRC probes whether inspector had documents showing Davis-Besse corrosion," Associated Press.

Feb 5: NRC budgets less cash for reactor safety inspections

WASHINGTON, DC -- "Though political pressure is rising over the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's failed oversight of the Davis-Besse power plant, the NRC says it wants to spend less - not more - on safety inspections at the nation's nuclear plants. . . .A spokesman for Sen. George Voinovich, Republican of Ohio, said he, too, would like to know the NRC's rationale for the cuts. 'At first blush, it seems to be surprising news,' said the spokesman, Scott Milburn, whose boss is planning a Senate committee hearing soon on the NRC's lapses at Davis-Besse, near Toledo. . . . Told that the NRC wants to reduce the number of inspectors, David Lochbaum, a nuclear safety engineer with the watchdog group Union of Concerned Scientists, said, "From the Lessons Learned Task Force report, that was one area they thought needed to be improved. So they're going to do it with fewer people, I guess.' But he quipped, 'You make fewer mistakes with fewer people,'" Stephen Koff, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

WASHINGTON, DC -- "NRC inspector had Davis-Besse evidence; Watchdog group says NRC inspector knew," John Mangels, John Funk, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

ROCKVILLE, MD -- "Regulators question FirstEnergy staffing," Michael Woods, Toledo Blade.

NEW YORK, NY -- "New York seeks cooperation on Indian Point emergency plan," Randal Archibold, New York Times.

Feb 4: Kucinich: Yank Davis-Besse license

WASHINGTON, DC -- "U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission yesterday to revoke the Davis-Besse nuclear reactor's operating license -- a request that, if granted, could severely affect the plant's future. The Cleveland Democrat, in a 29-page petition [97 KB doc], said the plant's owner, FirstEnergy Corp., 'ignored numerous warnings from the NRC, ignored repeated warnings from its own monitoring systems, and lied to and hid information from the NRC.' 'If there were ever a case for revoking a license, that case has been made, based on the record of events at Davis-Besse,' Kucinich said. 'If someone operates a car recklessly, they can have their license taken away. If someone operates a nuclear power plant recklessly, they should have their license taken away,'" John Funk, John Mangels, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

OAK HARBOR -- "Revoke license of Davis-Besse, lawmaker says; Cleveland's Kucinich claims NRC can't trust FirstEnergy," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

WASHINGTON -- "Kucinich fights FirstEnergy; Congressman wants authority to run nuclear plant revoked," Malia Rulon, Associated Press.

Feb 1: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission takes up complaint of Davis-Besse employee

CLEVELAND -- "[Attorney Howard] Whitcomb, a former NRC inspector who also once worked at Davis-Besse, said his client was one of three employees who told him they had been threatened in separate incidents after they questioned whether a job was being done properly. One worker's auto tires were slashed in early January, said Whitcomb, after the employee stopped a project in the reactor containment building over a safety issue. Co-workers also threatened the employee, he said. 'This person is very afraid. I don't know if a report was filed.' A third employee, who tried to stop a job over safety questions in December, was threatened by a co-worker and ostracized by other employees, said Whitcomb," John Funk, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

WASHINGTON, DC -- "A nuclear 9/11: Imminent or inflated threat?" Mark Burgess, Center for Defense Information, article dated Jan 30, 2003.

Jan 31:

CHICAGO -- "Davis-Besse workers claim harassment," John Mangels, John Funk, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

LISLE, IL -- "Psychologist to evaluate work force; FirstEnergy outlines efforts to boost safety," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

LISLE, IL -- "Nuclear regulators hear plans for plant; FirstEnergy making changes to improve safety at Davis-Besse," Jim Mackinnon, Akron Beacon Journal.

Jan 30:

LISLE, IL -- "Nuclear safety hearings to begin," John Mangels, John Funk, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

LISLE, IL -- "Besse put on notice to show job safety, NRC wants utility to raise awareness," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Jan 29: 2 drug-makers to offer radiation pills
Sale of potassium iodide expected by spring

TOLEDO -- "While Internet sales for those products and similar ones have reputedly been brisk since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, only two companies have received Food and Drug Administration approval to sell potassium iodide pills at U.S. retail outlets. One is Anbex of New York, which received approval weeks ago for its product, Iosat. Anbex got authorization to start manufacturing Iosat in 1982, in response to the 1979 accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania. The other is a Swedish company called RECIP AB, which yesterday announced that its newly formed U.S. division, called RECIP US, has received approval to sell potassium iodide pills at U.S. retail outlets under the brand name ThyroSafe. . . . The sudden availability of potassium iodide pills occurs as Ottawa County officials are giving away thousands to 23,000 people who live within 10 miles of FirstEnergy Corp.’s Davis-Besse nuclear plant, as part of a campaign administered by the Ohio Department of Health," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Jan 27: NRC to hear FirstEnergy plans for Davis-Besse

OAK HARBOR -- "Officials from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hear FirstEnergy's plan for improving the safety culture at Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station during a meeting Thursday in Lisle, Illinois. The meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. central standard time, which is 11 a.m. eastern standard time. . . Area residents can listen to the Thursday meeting via teleconference by calling (888) 577-8995 and giving the password 'Davis-Besse,'" Fremont News Messenger.

Jan 24: Who's minding nuclear store?
NRC’s ability to police itself is questioned

WASHINGTON, DC -- "While serving as chairman of the Senate’s powerful Committee on Governmental Affairs, former U.S. Sen. John Glenn of Ohio told colleagues he had been presented evidence which showed the NRC had "serious deficiencies" in its ability to police itself because of its relationship with the nuclear industry. Mr. Glenn introduced a bill on April 3, 1987, that ultimately led to the creation of the NRC’s Office of Inspector General. 'This is not a trivial matter. This committee has discovered evidence which suggests improper communications between the NRC and licensees concerning the NRC’s regulatory activities. And the evidence further suggests that the NRC has been incapable of policing such misconduct on its own,' according to a transcript of Mr. Glenn’s opening remarks while addressing the committee six days after his bill was introduced. 'After all, the NRC is supposed to be a watchdog, not a lapdog,'" Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Jan 23: Corrosion found at Tennessee reactor

CHATANOOGA, TN -- "Another nuclear reactor has been damaged by corrosion. Leaking coolant caused minor corrosion to a reactor at the Tennessee Valley Authority's Sequoyah nuclear plant near Chattanooga, Tenn., but was never a safety problem, a Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman said. More severe damage caused by boric acid corrosion was reported last March at Davis-Besse, the nuclear plant in Perry that is owned by Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. The damage at the Sequoyah plant's Unit 2 reactor was discovered after an unrelated shutdown on Dec. 26, according to the NRC," Akron Beacon Journal.

Jan 22: Two more nuke plants show coolant leaks

WASHINGTON, DC -- "Neither plant -- Sequoyah 2 in Tennessee nor Comanche Peak 1 in Texas -- has a rust problem that rivals Davis-Besse’s. But their cases could make the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s job of tightening standards tougher, because they further dispel the notion that minor boric acid leaks can be tolerated, an agency official said yesterday. . . . Comanche Peak 1’s reactor-head corrosion was too small to measure. Two pounds of boric acid crystal were recovered from its steel head, but that pales in comparison to the 900 pounds removed from Davis-Besse’s reactor head, officials said," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Jan 21: Refueling of reactor must wait a few days
FirstEnergy has to test backup generators first at crippled Davis-Besse

AKRON -- "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," Jim Mackinnon, Akron Beacon Journal.

WASHINGTON, DC -- "Indian Point report contradicts experts on effect of attack," Matthew Wald, New York Times.

Jan 20: NOW with Bill Moyers to report on Davis-Besse on Jan 24

NEW YORK -- On Friday night, January 24, the national PBS news magazine NOW with Bill Moyers will report on the breakdown at the Davis-Besse nuclear plant and the campaign to keep it closed. For the broadcast time in your area, check your local schedule. After the show, you can join a discussion of the report at the NOW website. For more information, contact Amy Ryder, Ohio Citizen Action (216) 861-5200.

Jan 18: KI pill handouts begin
About 300 pick up potassium iodide pills in first round of distribution

PORT CLINTON -- "PORT CLINTON -- Alarmed by recent news reports, Benton Township resident Alan Perry picked up a pair of KI pill packets Friday, preparing for the worst. Perry and his wife, Carol, can now safeguard their thyroid glands against radioactivity. KI pills, or potassium iodide, help defend the thyroid in case of a nuclear accident. And the Ottawa County Health Department is distributing 140,000 pills -- free of charge -- to those living within 10 miles of Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station. 'I'm glad they're doing something about it,' Perry said, foil packets in hand. 'I'm kind of disheartened about all the problems they're having at Davis-Besse. Everyone seems to be blaming everybody else for what's going on out there,'" Rick Neale, Port Clinton News Herald.

CHATTANOOGA, TN -- "Tennessee reactor lid's damage triggers alert," John Mangels, John Funk, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Jan 15: NRC frets about plant attitudes
‘Safety culture’ must improve, officials say

PORT CLINTON -- "About 10 days before FirstEnergy Corp. starts moving fuel back into its Davis-Besse nuclear reactor, company officials have yet to convince the government that they have improved the work environment enough to restart the troubled plant. Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials said at their monthly oversight panel meeting here yesterday that their lingering concerns about FirstEnergy’s "safety culture" are among the biggest obstacles the company has left to overcome," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

AKRON -- "Reactor will be refueled for test; Nuclear reactions are still months away at Davis-Besse, however," Jim Mackinnon, Akron Beacon Journal.

ROCKVILLE, MD -- "NRC admits lengthy timetable for implementing safety reforms," Michael Woods, Toledo Blade.

WASHINGTON, DC -- "NRC hopes reforms plug holes in safety," Stephen Koff, John Mangels, John Funk, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Jan 14: NRC to act on reforms for reactor oversight

NEW YORK, NY -- "'Although some of the changes the NRC is readying are 'not only obvious but grossly overdue,' nuclear watchdog Paul Gunter worries that overall the reforms don't address the real issue. That is a failure by the agency to stick to the regulations and procedures it already has, in the face of industry pressure, rather than adding new ones. 'This appears to be guidance upon guidance,' said Gunter, of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service. 'We don't see any evidence that the NRC's role in prioritizing production over safety [at Davis-Besse] has been addressed.' An NRC inspector general's report 11 days ago blasted the agency's senior management," John Funk, John Mangels, Stephen Koff, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

WASHINGTON, DC -- "Demands grow for improving Indian Point emergency plan," Matthew Wald, New York Times.

Jan 11: Debate emerges over NRC official
Regulator accused of ignoring safety

WASHINGTON, DC -- "A debate has quietly emerged about the possible future of a senior Nuclear Regulatory Commission official accused of pushing aside safety warnings at the Davis-Besse nuclear plant in favor of letting the plant operate until last Feb. 16. Ohio Citizen Action is calling for the ouster of Sam Collins, the NRC’s powerful nuclear reactor regulation director, in light of a NRC Inspector General report that claims he put profits ahead of safety by not following through with a rare government shutdown order that his staff recommended and agency attorneys approved," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Jan 10: NRC chief blisters watchdog's report

WASHINGTON, DC -- "In a harsh and unusually public rebuke, the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has rejected the findings of his own inspector general that top NRC officials let financial concerns, not safety, drive their oversight of the troubled Davis-Besse nuclear plant. Richard Meserve, writing on behalf of the five-member NRC governing board he chairs, said the conclusions of the agency's internal watchdog are 'unjustified, unfair and misleading.'. . . Meserve's blunt, dismissive tone shocked some former NRC commissioners, members of Congress and agency observers. 'The commission ought to be reflecting on its performance rather than quibbling over the details of the inspector general's report and then rejecting the whole thing,' said Victor Gilinsky, an NRC governor from 1975 to 1984. 'It seems to me they're on some other planet,'" John Mangels, John Funk and Stephen Koff, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

WASHINGTON -- "Outgoing chief of NRC decries critical report," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Jan 9: Plant makes radiation fixes
Davis-Besse pays for monitoring gear after worker contamination in March

OAK HARBOR -- "Radioactive particles on the clothing of five contract workers who left the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant last spring have cost owner FirstEnergy Corp. $400,000 for new monitoring equipment. The Akron-based utility also created what it calls a radiation protection department under the supervision of Davis-Besse's former operations manager, and it recalibrated some existing monitors, said spokesman Todd Schneider," Gloria Irwin, Akron Beacon Journal.

WASHINGTON, DC -- "Reply to report on NRC's regulation of Davis-Besse regarding damage to the reactor vessel head," memo, Chairman Richard Meserve to Inspector General Hubert Bell, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (letter dated Jan 8, 19KB pdf).

AKRON -- "Nuclear reaction; FirstEnergy has repaired its ways at Davis-Besse. Will Congress ensure that federal overseers do the same?" editorial, Akron Beacon Journal.

MANSFIELD -- "Solutions must be found for nuclear power," editorial, Mansfield News Journal.

Jan 8: Davis-Besse broke rules, but fine not likely

OAK HARBOR -- "The Davis-Besse nuclear plant will get extra scrutiny from federal regulators, but its owner probably won't be fined for allowing four contract workers to walk out of the facility contaminated with radioactive particles last February. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission tentatively concluded yesterday that the plant's managers broke regulations during a refueling outage when they sent the workers to do routine repairs inside the reactor's huge steam generators without adequate preparation," John Mangels, John Funk, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Jan 7: Future of Oak Harbor, Ohio, linked to reactor

OAK HARBOR -- "Ohio Citizen Action, a public interest group, wants the plant to be closed permanently. 'I think FirstEnergy has lost its privilege to run the plant. What they're doing now is too little, too late,' said Amy Ryder, the group's Cleveland area director. . .'Every time you turn around now there's something new they discover,' said Sandy Fillmore, a former Davis-Besse employee who manages a pizza shop. 'I don't think it should be reopened again,'" Tim Jones, Chicago Tribune.

NEW YORK, NY -- "A nuclear horror story," editorial, New York Times.

COLUMBUS -- "Taft asks NRC for full briefing before startup; FirstEnergy plans February test to show reactor is sound," Jim Provance, Toledo Blade.

Jan 4: Investigators allege U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission put profit first

OAK HARBOR -- "A request to have the NRC pay for [an outside investigation of the NRC’s performance at Davis-Besse], filed April 24 by 15 citizen groups, was rejected in October by Sam Collins -- the same NRC official who approved the Feb. 16 compromise. Mr. Collins is the NRC’s nuclear reactor regulation director. 'Sam Collins should be fired, period,' Amy Ryder, Ohio Citizen Action spokesman, said. 'This is an agency which keeps saying it should overhaul itself. This is how they can start: Fire Sam Collins,'" Toledo Blade.

WASHINGTON, DC -- "Regulators' wariness kept a damaged A-plant open," Matthew Wald, New York Times.

Jan 3: Report hits NRC decisions on Davis-Besse

CLEVELAND -- "The Nuclear Regulatory Commission had enough evidence to justify shutting down the Davis-Besse nuclear plant in late 2001 for safety concerns, but the agency let the reactor keep running largely because it didn't want to hurt owner FirstEnergy Corp. financially. That finding -- that the NRC let FirstEnergy's money concerns drive what was supposed to be a safety decision -- is one of the main conclusions in a highly critical review by the agency's Office of Inspector General," John Funk, John Mangels, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

CLEVELAND -- "Feds let suspect nuclear plant operate," CBS News.

WASHINGTON, DC -- "Group: Nuke regulators backed off plant," Malia Rulon, Associated Press.

Jan 1: Davis-Besse woes help spur nuke-plant confab

GAITHERSBURG, MD -- "'We have an aging fleet of plants with a design that we may never see again,' [Bill Cullen, a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission senior materials engineer] said. Utilities owning them are 'going to have to come to grips' with the enormous expense of replacing heads or take other measures to protect the devices, he said. . . Similar problems at other plants - such as Duke Energy Corp.’s Oconee Unit 3 plant in South Carolina - contributed to the NRC’s decision to hold the forum, he said. . . The NRC had seen hairline cracks in reactor-head nozzles since 1988, but the cracks found at Oconee Unit 3 in early 2001 were the first in a horizontal, circular pattern -- far more dangerous than axial, vertical cracks because they can weaken tubes and allow them to pop off like champagne corks. Reactor heads have 69 such nozzles. If any break apart, the result could be the same as a hole in the reactor head: The containment building, the public’s last line of defense, could be instantly filled with radioactive steam, officials have said," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.
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