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  Wednesday, April 9, 2003

 Local News


FirstEnergy Corp. acquiring spare pumps for D-B


Associated Press


OAK HARBOR -- FirstEnergy Corp. intends to salvage two emergency cooling pumps from a canceled nuclear plant in case they're needed at the company's idled Davis-Besse reactor.

Although FirstEnergy has not ruled out modifying the Davis-Besse pumps, the company authorized purchase of the never-used pumps as a hedge.

"It was the right thing to do," FirstEnergy spokes-man Todd Schneider said Tuesday. "It was a prudent investment. If we don't install them now, they could be kept as spares, or installed at a later refueling outage."

FirstEnergy supplier Framatome ANP "got a good deal" on the pumps, said Schneider, although he would not disclose the cost.

The Virginia firm, which obtained a replacement lid for Davis-Besse's rust-damaged one last year from a mothballed Michigan plant, will refurbish the pumps if needed, as well as make sure they match Davis-Besse's piping and electrical equipment, Schneider said.

FirstEnergy is getting the pumps from an unfinished reactor at a complex near Richland, Wash., Schneider said.

The reactor, about 65 percent complete, was mothballed in 1983 due to rising construction costs and a dim outlook for future power needs.

The high-pressure pumps in question at Davis-Besse are part of the reactor's emergency core cooling system, the equipment used to keep the hot, radioactive fuel rods bathed with water in case of an accident.

In March 2002, a month after the routine shutdown at the plant along western Lake Erie, a leak was discovered that had allowed boric acid to eat nearly through the 6-inch-thick steel cap covering the plant's reactor vessel.

It was the most extensive corrosion ever at a U.S. nuclear reactor and led to a nationwide review of all 69 similar plants.

Originally published Wednesday, April 9, 2003

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