4:03:00 PM ET|
FirstEnergy tests Ohio nuke, work may run into
SAN FRANCISCO, April 8
(Reuters) - FirstEnergy Corp. (nyse: FE
said on Tuesday it began a critical test needed before it can
restart its shut Davis-Besse nuclear power plant in Ohio, a target
now likely to slip into May.
The test, required by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory
Commission, will weigh the soundness of a 1 1/2-inch thick steel
vessel that houses the plant's reactor and safety
The test is expected to
be completed by the end of this week, the company said in a
A spokesman for
Akron, Ohio-based FirstEnergy said the test is part of a checklist
of work to be completed before the company can ask the NRC for
permission to restart the plant.
The spokesman said "late April, early May" is the
target to wrap up work before the company will be ready to seek NRC
"It's possible the
work could slip into May before completion," said spokesman Richard
The Davis-Besse plant
was shut in February 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
FirstEnergy's goal was to
have repair work, including a new head for the reactor vessel,
completed and the plant restarted by March 31, but that timetable
was pushed into April.
said among other jobs, the company is working on engineering for
"high-pressure injection pumps" that are part of a safety cooling
system for the reactor.
pumps may need filters or modifications to use unfiltered water to
cool the reactor if a tank of filtered water is used up, he
Also, the NRC has sent a
team of inspectors to Davis-Besse this week to assess FirstEnergy's
work to improve what the commission calls the plant's "safety
The NRC said
weaknesses in the safety culture were "key contributors in the
corrosion of the reactor vessel head."
The NRC said results of the inspection will be
presented at a public meeting and an inspection report is expected
about a month after the meeting, which has not yet been
The bill for
Davis-Besse repairs, including purchases of replacement power, is
likely to exceed $400 million.
The plant has a generating capacity of 925
megawatts, or power for more than 900,000 homes.
Copyright 2003, Reuters News