SUNNY
12°
more weather




Thursday,
February 27, 2003

 



Tips on searching


Browse Last 30 Days
The Blade Archives
AP Archives


Latest News
Sports
Business
Arts & Entertainment
Davis-Besse In-depth
Opinion
Religion
Health & Science
Columnists
Obituaries
Special Reports
Weather
AP Wire
Photos of the Day
Lottery
Today's Front Page


General
Homes
Autos
Jobs
Boats/Recreation
Celebrations
Legal Notices
Directory of Worship
Personals

Restaurant Guide
Arts/Events Calendar
Educational Services
Forums
E-thepeople
TV Listings
Movie Showtimes
Horoscopes


Toledo Pros
House & Home Show
toledo
Contests
KidZone
Mud Hens Web Cam


Set As Homepage
Subscriber Services
Email Newsletter
The Blade e-edition
Advertise
About Us
Contact Us
Help & FAQs

Regional News | Article published Wednesday, February 26, 2003
Repairs key to engineer’s case
Work sought by ex-employee would cost more, delay restart

By
BLADE STAFF WRITER


OAK HARBOR, Ohio - At the heart of a whistleblower dispute between a fired engineer and FirstEnergy is additional water pump work at the Davis-Besse nuclear plant that would have cost the utility millions more and further delayed restart plans.

Andrew Siemaszko claims in his 24-page document filed with the U.S. Department of Labor that he was illegally fired from his job as lead systems engineer on Sept. 18 because he insisted on having all four of Davis-Besse’s reactor coolant pumps refurbished now.

Those pumps, used primarily to circulate cooling water through the reactor during normal operations, have not been refurbished since 1986, according to FirstEnergy.

Mr. Siemaszko thought it was important to have the work done on all four pumps now because they have been in operation 17 years and are nearing the end of their typical 20-year life span, according to his attorney, Billie Garde.

A suspected leak in the inner gasket of one pump led to FirstEnergy’s decision to start out by refurbishing a pair during this outage, the company said.

The pumps operate in pairs on a loop system, meaning it’s more practical to do work on at least two at a time.

FirstEnergy estimates the cost of refurbishing all four pumps at $10 million - roughly $5 million for each pair.

Of greater concern could be the potential time lag, given that no work beyond the first pair of pumps has been scheduled yet and parts can be hard to obtain.

The company estimates that even under a "best-case scenario" each set of pumps will require 20 days of work - in other words, a minimum 40 days to do all four pumps at once.

Nuclear plants can lose as much as $1 million a day in energy production. Even with its longstanding deals for supplemental power, FirstEnergy loses $10 million to $15 million a month buying electricity from other suppliers during non-peak months. During peak summer usage, the losses range between $20 million and $25 million a month, Richard Wilkins, company spokesman, said.

FirstEnergy hopes to mitigate the cost of refurbishing the first pair by doing the work during Davis-Besse’s extended outage, now in its 13th month.

Mr. Siemaszko argued that it would be more prudent - and safer for the public - to upgrade all four at once, because of their age and their tendency for similar problems to arise with each set.

The company disagreed. In a prepared statement, it told The Blade it will refurbish the other two pumps later, possibly during a mid-cycle outage it expects to have a year after restart.

The company’s latest timetable calls for it to apply to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for restart authorization in April. But NRC officials said yesterday the plant may not resume operation that month, because the agency has its own inspections scheduled into early May.

FirstEnergy also still has to convince the agency it has overcome other issues, such as creating a work atmosphere more conducive for employees to come forward with problems, officials said.



More articles on this subject »
Loading of fuel complete at Besse 02/27/2003
Bump shutters Pittsburgh-area plant 02/27/2003
NRC rates corrosion 1 of worst violations 02/26/2003
NRC holds to inspection of all Besse-type reactor heads 02/25/2003
NRC looking at complaint about Besse 02/21/2003

Article Features »
Printer-friendly version
Forum on this topic
Email to a friend
View the Latest News index
Subcategories »
2002 Census

America Remembers

Davis-Besse

Accidents/Vehicular

City of Toledo

Courts

Crime

Elections

Environment

Fires

Higher Education

K-12 Education

Michigan News

Minority Issues

Obituaries - News

Ohio News

Other

Politics

Regional News

Religion

Suburban News

Transportation

War on terrorism

Weather

Zoo & Library









ACADEMY AWARDS 2003
Guess this year's winners correctly for a chance to win a trip to Universal Orlando!

HEARTLAND COOKING CONTEST
Enter a recipe for a chance to win a trip to Toronto!

WINNERS LIST
Click here!






© 2003 The Blade. Privacy Statement. By using this service, you accept the terms of our visitor agreement: Please read it.

The Toledo Blade Company, 541 N. Superior St., Toledo, OH 43660, (419) 724-6000
To contact a specific department or an individual person, click here.