CAMP PERRY -- Preliminary pressure tests have been completed at
Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station, and company officials are looking
at early August for a possible restart date, they told federal
The two pressure tests, which increased reactor coolant system
pressure to 50 pounds per-square-inch and 250 pounds
per-square-inch, respectively, were completed last month in an
attempt to identify any valves in need of repair, according to
officials from FirstEnergy, the parent company of Davis-Besse.
FirstEnergy Vice President and Davis-Besse Plant Manager Mark
Bezilla said most of the necessary valve repairs have already been
detected and completed.
The plant shut down in February 2002 when a startling amount of
corrosion was detected on the reactor head. For the last 15 months,
FirstEnergy has worked toward its goal of re-opening the plant under
the supervision of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The tests were a precursor to full-pressure system test scheduled
for mid-July. The full-pressure test would increase the pressure to
about 2,155 pounds per-square-inch for seven days. The pressure then
would he reduced, allowing crews to test the equipment and reactor
FirstEnergy officials say they are encouraged by the tests,
which, they say, put them on track to restart sometime in August.
"We're very pleased with the results of the tests" said
FirstEnergy Chief Operating Officer Lew Myers. "We feel very solid
right now about the performance of the (reactor coolant system).
Shortly after (the full-pressure test in July), we're confident
we'll be ready to reopen our unit at
the beginning of August."
NRC officials, however, stopped short of echoing Myers'
"We don't comment on their schedule for restart," said NRC
spokesman Bill Ruland. "We base our opinions on their tests. Not
Still, FirstEnergy remains convinced the plant's problems will be
remedied sooner than later.
"We believe we know all of the issues that need to be resolved,"
said Restart Director Mike Ross. "And we continue to believe that
all of these issues are, in fact, resolvable."
One of the chief problems that FirstEnergy has taken steps to
resolve is the modification of the plant's two high pressure
injection pumps, which are used to maintain circulating water to
cool down the dangerously hot equipment in the reactor containment
One of the two pumps has been removed and shipped to the
manufacturer for modification and the other pump is currently being
removed and will also be sent away for repair. The pumps will be
fitted with screens that will properly cool and lubricate the pumps
should they be required to pull water from the sump into the reactor
Bob Schrauder, director of support services for FirstEnergy, said
the company faced a decision early on to either replace the pumps
completely or try to have them repaired.
"We have confirmed for ourselves that this modification will
work," he said. "We looked at both replacing and modifying. We
haven't abandoned the idea of replacement, but we've put it on hold.
We have a very high confidence level with this approach."
Originally published Wednesday, June 4, 2003