|5/15/03 3:18:00 PM ET|
FirstEnergy urges quick NRC OK for Ohio nuke
SAN FRANCISCO, May 15
(Reuters) - FirstEnergy Corp (nyse: FE
said on Thursday it needs urgent regulatory approval to run a
critical test at its downed Davis-Besse nuclear power plant to allow
it to meet its August restart target.
The Akron, Ohio-based energy company sent a 97-page
application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Wednesday for a
one-time amendment to its plant license to test the operating
pressure and temperature in the reactor and reactor cooling system
to make sure there are no leaks.
The weeklong test, one of many steps FirstEnergy
must take before restarting the Ohio plant, is planned for sometime
in the first two weeks of June, said plant spokesman Todd Schneider
Thursday, adding "August is still the timeline" for
NRC spokesman Jan
Strasma, however, said the application and test schedule is
"Normally it takes us
several weeks to process an amendment to technical specifications or
to the license, and that's on an expedited basis," said
A license amendment
not urgently needed takes the NRC several months to process, he
If the NRC had complete
information from FirstEnergy, "we could decide on the application in
perhaps two to three weeks," said Strasma.
Davis-Besse was forced to close in Feb. 2002 when
inspectors found that boric acid leaking through cracks in the
reactor vessel head had eaten a hole nearly all the way through the
reactor's 6-inch thick steel lid.
FirstEnergy has replaced the lid, but repairs and
other work, including an investigation of the plant's "safety
culture," have caused the company to miss repeated targets for
including the cost of purchases of electricity supplies to replace
Davis-Besse's 925 megawatt generating capacity, are likely to cost
more than $400 million.
FirstEnergy's application to the NRC said its
"restart test plan provides an opportunity to identify potential
issues with safety-grade equipment as well as equipment important to
said delay in completing the test plan would cause "delay in the
correction of these currently unidentified equipment issues, with a
potential corresponding delay in other station equipment repairs and
for a license amendment, however, "involves no significant increases
in plant risk," FirstEnergy said.
The NRC and FirstEnergy are scheduled to meet June
3 in Oak Harbor, Ohio, for a regular monthly review of Davis-Besse
Copyright 2003, Reuters