| Article published Friday, June 20, 2003|
FirstEnergy outlines plan for Davis-Besse pump fix August
restart is still possible, regulators are
By MICHAEL WOODS
ROCKVILLE, Md. - Two key pumps at the
Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station can be fixed in time for a planned
August restart of the facility, FirstEnergy officials told the
federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) yesterday.
very simple, and very straightforward, and we believe it’s the best
solution to the problem," Gary Leidich, FirstEnergy’s executive vice
He spoke at an unusual session at NRC
headquarters here, in which FirstEnergy engineers briefed commission
staff on modifications planned for Davis-Besse’s so-called
high-pressure injection (HPI) pumps.
A utility normally would
review such modification plans with an NRC regional office - which
in Davis-Besse’s case is located near Chicago. But NRC headquarters
staff wanted to eyeball the plans because Davis-Besse is under
special commission supervision after the March, 2002,
hole-in-the-reactor-vessel head incident.
It involved a leak
of corrosive water overlooked for years despite numerous warning
flags. The plant has been closed since February, 2002, at a cost to
FirstEnergy of about $15 million a month.
shutdown, FirstEnergy realized that Davis-Besse’s two HPIs might not
work properly. The 600-horsepower pumps are part of a key safety
system that injects cooling water into the reactor to prevent a
meltdown after a serious accident.
Jim Powers, director of
engineering at Davis-Besse, told NRC the pumps are unique among the
103 nuclear power plants in the country. They use so-called
hydrostatic bearings that could be damaged by accident debris sucked
Bob Coward of MPR Associates, hired by
FirstEnergy for the pump modification, said the solution will
involve installing an internal filter to catch debris, and making an
internal plumbing change.
He described extensive MPR tests,
simulations, and research showing that the modification will work.
Further studies will be done before the actual modifications, which
would be completed in July.
NRC engineers and management
officials indicated that the planned modifications seemed
reasonable, but said they would closely monitor the test results and
For earlier stories on Davis-Besse, go