CARROLL TOWNSHIP -- Nuclear watchdog groups are criticizing
FirstEnergy Corp.'s decision to wait on rebuilding two reactor
coolant pumps that have a history of leaking at a plant.
Two of the four pumps at the Davis-Besse nuclear plant have been
rebuilt, but FirstEnergy wants to refurbish the others later.
Nuclear watchdog groups said delaying a fix on the pumps is
similar to what the plant did before in ignoring leaks in the
The plant has been shut down since February 2002. A month later a
leak was discovered that had allowed boric acid to eat nearly
through the 6-inch-thick steel cap covering the plant's reactor
"The NRC needs to address the issue," said David Lochbaum, a
nuclear safety engineer and industry watchdog with the Union of
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is looking into the issue, said
agency spokeswoman Viktoria Mitlyng. "The fact there is gasket
leakage does not mean the pumps are not working," she said.
FirstEnergy is considering refurbishing two of the pumps during
an outage that is likely to occur a year after the plant resumes
operation, said Richard Wilkins, spokesman for the Akron-based
"We aren't reconsidering. All the consideration was done up
front. The review was very thorough," he said.
Wilkins said the pumps will be checked for leaks during a test
next month, and if necessary, repaired before Davis-Besse is put
back in service, Wilkins said. The company wants to have the plant
operating by summer.
The two pumps have not been inspected during the plant's 13-month
outage, according to a memo written in August by two plant
Some NRC officials have said the problem could have been found
earlier, and that the plant operators put profits ahead of safety.
Jack Grobe, NRC oversight panel chairman, said the issue is not
new, and the leakage did not exceed allowable limits.
Originally published Saturday, March 29, 2003