WASHINGTON - A hazardous incident at
FirstEnergy's Davis-Besse nuclear plant is likely to be resolved
without a congressional hearing.
The leak at the plant in Oak Harbor was the worst nuclear power
plant incident since the near-meltdown at Three Mile Island in
Pennsylvania more than 25 years ago.
Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La., prodded by an Ohio Republican who
represents the Davis-Besse area, has pulled back from talk about
conducting a public hearing at one of the subcommittees he
Tauzin is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee,
and a subcommittee chairman -- Rep. Jim Greenwood, R-Pa. -- had said
earlier this year a hearing would be in order to examine the conduct
of FirstEnergy Corp.
But Energy Daily, a trade publication, has reported the hearing's
narrow focus on the Akron utility was said to have been viewed as
unfair, and the hearing was scrapped.
Since the Davis-Besse leak, smaller problems of a similar nature
have turned up at other nuclear facilities.
Tauzin spokesman Ken Johnson said Tuesday some concerns were
raised about prematurely moving forward with a hearing before
reviewing documents and conducting interviews. He said logistical
problems and a shortage of issues to discuss were the main reasons a
hearing would not be conducted in the immediate future.
There was some speculation that a hearing would occur after a May
7 letter heavily critical of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was
sent out by Greenwood, who chairs the oversight and investigations
subcommittee. But Tauzin is now saying the collective wisdom of the
committee decided against holding a hearing.
Johnson said this decision was actually made a couple of weeks
The decision relieves some pressure on FirstEnergy, which has
already been in the spotlight for failing to catch the
football-sized hole that left only a half-inch stainless steel liner
intact to contain radioactive steam and water in the reactor. The
extensive nature of the corrosion shocked NRC inspectors when they
visited the plant in February 2002, it has been reported.
The Energy Daily report cited Rep. Paul Gillmor, R-Old Fort, as
one of the committee members who may have influenced the decision
not to hold a hearing.
It quoted Gillmor as saying that he didn't mind having the
hearing as long as it looked into all the utilities that have a
A spokesman for Gillmor on Tuesday denied that he had killed the