Nuclear power news
Sep - Oct 2002

Oct 31: Nuclear plants told to give up more data
NRC plans directive with tougher code

OAK HARBOR -- "Paul Gunter, spokesman for a national citizens group called the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, said Davis-Besse has magnified the 'underlying gullibility of the NRC to accept industry assumptions.' He said FirstEnergy's admission that it turned over inspection records that were incomplete and inaccurate 'shook' the NRC. 'The Davis-Besse event undermined the agency confidence in industry reporting,' Mr. Gunter said.," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

WASHINGTON -- "Expert wonders if rust unique to Davis-Besse, Incident dominates talk at global conference," Michael Woods, Toledo Blade.

Oct 30: Davis-Besse decision revisited before Nuclear Regulatory Commission

WASHINGTON, DC -- "The [Nuclear Regulatory Commmission] prepared a shutdown order as a bluff and also as a backup in case FirstEnergy played hardball and wouldn't shut down, said [Brian Sheron, the agency's senior licensing and technical official]. 'I haven't seen a plant yet that wants an order from the NRC,' Sheron said. 'What it does to their bond and stock rating is a disaster. . . . [But] I told my staff we are going to have to back it up with an order," John Funk, Stephen Koff, John Mangels, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

WASHINGTON, DC -- "The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's two-edged risk-informed sword: razor sharp on one side, nerf-like on the other," David Lochbaum, nuclear safety engineer, Union of Concerned Scientists, prepared statement for presentation at the Commission's Nuclear Safety Research Conference, October 30, 2002 (188 KB pdf).

Oct 29: Fact-finders may take look at Davis-Besse

WASHINGTON, DC -- "[NRC Commissioner Jeffrey] Merrifield said the timing of such a hearing would depend on the progress of several agency investigations, including an inquiry into possible criminal wrongdoing by FirstEnergy in its successful campaign last fall to persuade the NRC to postpone a mandatory shutdown of Davis-Besse for a safety inspection. Investigators are trying to determine if FirstEnergy altered or withheld documents that would have shown the true condition of the lid," John Mangels, John Funk, Stephen Koff, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

LOUISA, VA -- "Officials: Reactor will be back in service next year after repairs," Austin Graham, Charlottesville Daily Progress.

CORK, IRELAND -- "Sellafield nuclear processing plant as risky to Irish as it is to Cumbrians," Dan Buckley, Irish Examiner.

Oct 25: Congressional briefing focuses on Davis-Besse repairs

CLEVELAND -- "The FirstEnergy Corp. managers and engineers at the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant would have been thrown off a nuclear-powered naval ship, a lawyer for the company said yesterday. "What would Adm. Rickover have done?" Kucinich asked lawyer and engineer George Edgar, a partner in a powerful Washington, D.C., law firm and a former staffer for the late Adm. Hyman Rickover, who is considered the "father" of the nuclear navy. "Would they have been on his ship?" Kucinich demanded after Edgar said the managers "failed to connect the dots" of evidence indicating the lid was actively rusting. "No," replied Edgar," John Funk, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

CLEVELAND -- "Kucinich vows to put nuclear plant to test, Conditions would be placed on restart," Toledo Blade.

CLEVELAND -- "Area youths seek answers on Davis-Besse," Toledo Blade.

CLEVELAND -- "Kucinich wants Davis-Besse answers," Jennifer Funk, Port Clinton News Herald.

CLEVELAND -- "Kucinich promises more questions,Congressman to probe alleged negligence at Davis-Besse plant," Akron Beacon Journal.

OSAKA, JAPAN -- "Dodgy nuclear reactor to shut down for 1 year," Mainichi Daily News.

Oct 24: ". . . other options might be considered"

CLEVELAND -- "It's my understanding that the company's present plan is to complete the comprehensive plans for restart of Davis Besse. If they are not successful then other options might be considered. There is no present intention to look at repowering," George Edgar, Partner, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, representing FirstEnergy.

Oct 24: Nuclear plant worker files suit Davis-Besse supervisor is placed on leave after complaint to NRC

PORT CLINTON -- "Port Clinton resident Timothy Tackett is suing his employer, saying he was placed on a paid leave of absence the day after he complained to the NRC that the company was putting him and others 'under intense schedule pressure' while publicly proclaiming safety was the top priority. Tackett said he complained to the NRC last month after delays and problems, including a near electrocution, arose in repairs to the 'polar crane,' a large device that lifts heavy objects inside the plant's containment chamber, which holds the nuclear reactor," Jim Mackinnon, Akron Beacon Journal.

OSAKA, JAPAN -- "Tokyo Electric Power Company hid discovery of nuclear-contaminated air discharge," Mainichi Daily News.

WASHINGTON, DC -- "Split on Nuclear Plants: Weak Spot or Fortress?" Matthew Wald, New York Times.

Oct 23: In Japan, they handle things a little differently. . .

Hiroshi ArakiPeter BurgCLEVELAND -- "Neighbors of Tokyo Electric Power's nuclear power plants in Fukushima, Japan, know just what neighbors of Davis-Besse are going through. Like FirstEnergy, Toledo Electric Power has for years failed to report safety problems stemming from cracks in the reactor. Once these failures were brought to light, however, TEPCO's response was wholly different from that of FirstEnergy," Ohio Citizen Action.
Photos: Kiroshi Araki, former Chairman, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), and Peter Burg, Chairman, FirstEnergy.

CLEVELAND -- "Davis-Besse supervisor sues FirstEnergy over leave," John Funk, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

OAK HARBOR -- "Davis-Besse worker sues over suspension," Toledo Blade.

Oct 22: Davis-Besse worker files suit charging retaliation

PORT CLINTON -- "On Sept. 18, [Timothy] Tackett went to the resident [U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)] inspector at the plant and had a one-hour meeting, during which he brought up his concerns -- mainly that management stressed safety over schedule to the NRC, but their actions proved otherwise in the plant -- according to the suit. '[Tackett] told the NRC that he and other individuals were under intense schedule pressures,' the lawsuit stated. Since then, enough other complaints from workers have been leveled against Davis-Besse to elevate the matter from a concern to an allegation that the NRC's Office of Investigation is looking into, according to the suit," Jennifer Funk, Port Clinton News Herald.

AKRON -- "FirstEnergy pledges to pay down debts," Toledo Blade.

OAK HARBOR -- "NRC says no to third party review at Davis-Besse," Akron Beacon Journal.

OAK HARBOR -- "Citizens’ appeal rejected by NRC; Davis-Besse review sought," Toledo Blade.

Oct 21: Public invited to attend
Congressional field briefing to take testimony on Davis-Besse this Thursday

Dennis KucinichCLEVELAND -- "U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich will convene a congressional field briefing on Thursday, October 24, to hear expert testimony and public comment about the recent activities at Davis-Besse and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The hearing will be from 10:00 AM - Noon at Cleveland City Hall, 601 Lakeside Avenue. Representatives from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and FirstEnergy have been invited to answer questions about the degradation found at Davis-Besse. For more information on the meeting, please contact Congressman Kucinich's office (216) 228-8850," Amy Ryder, Ohio Citizen Action.

FREMONT -- "FirstEnergy should study Davis-Besse alternatives," Beatrice Miringu, guest column, Fremont News Register.

SAN FRANCISCO -- "Watchdogs warn more repairs at U.S. nuclear plants," Leonard Anderson, Reuters.

CLEVELAND -- Conflicting scenarios: What might have happened next, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Oct 20: Davis-Besse hole is full of questions

CLEVELAND -- "For all their training, though, it is operators who caused or made worse the most serious nuclear accidents. Some experts say the unexpectedness of a lid breach would make it tough to quickly diagnose. 'It would have presented a challenge for a while to know how to deal with it,' said Harold Denton, the former head of the NRC's reactor regulation branch and the man President Carter dispatched to manage the Three Mile Island crisis. '(Davis-Besse) was very nearly a substantial loss-of-coolant accident. These are extremely rare events. There's no way of knowing how it would turn out.' 'A head rupture isn't in their [reactor operators'] vocabulary,' said [Hal Ornstein, a 28-year NRC veteran who now is a forensic engineer for a private firm]. A sudden lid rupture 'would probably give the operators fits in terms of what's happening and trying to recover from it,'" John Mangels, John Funk, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Oct 18: FirstEnergy's political largess exceeds legal limits

WASHINGTON -- FirstEnergy Corp., the Akron-based utility that owns the troubled Davis-Besse nuclear power plant, has been way too generous in giving money to members of Congress - exceeding by at least $15,000 the limits allowed for contributions, a review of campaign records shows. Partly in response to recent Federal Election Commission questions about some of the contributions, FirstEnergy's PAC is asking politicians to refund the sums that exceeded the $5,000 per-election federal legal limit. "The bottom line with all this is, we are in the process of putting procedures in to try to minimize these kinds of mistakes," Ralph DiNicola said. "We certainly weren't trying to hide anything," Stephen Koff, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

OAK HARBOR -- "Utility again works on plant sales," Jon Chavez, Toledo Blade .

AKRON -- "Earnings for utility increase in quarter," John Funk, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Oct 17: Does the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission protect public safety or protect FirstEnergy executives?

PORT CLINTON -- Read this transcript of how a top U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission official answered a neighbor of Davis-Besse and decide for yourself.
Source: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company public meeting, Oak Harbor High School, September 17, 2002. Transcription by Marlene S. Rogers-Lewis & Associates reporters.

Oct 17: "Glowing Report"
A poem by Helen A. Spalding

PORT CLINTON -- "Seems more nozzles now have holes. Drip, drip, drip. We didn't see it under our nose. Drip, drip, drip. NRC gave us a gold award. Same day we're cited for what we ignored. Now they want an oversight board. Drip, drip, drip," [excerpt].

OAK HARBOR -- "Ohio nuke plant rapped on radiation; Ohio nuclear power plant didn't check workers well enough for radiation contamination, NRC says," Associated Press.

OAK HARBOR -- "NRC cites Akron's FirstEnergy for allowing radiation to leave plant; Utility called on carpet; Davis-Besse problem unlikely to cause public health threat," Jim Mackinnon, Akron Beacon Journal.

OAK HARBOR -- "Nuclear plant studies old reactor for other leaks, source of acid," Kelly Lecker, Clyde Hughes, Toledo Blade.

OAK HARBOR -- "Workers unlikely to suffer from radiation, study says," John Funk, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

OAK HARBOR -- "NRC praises Davis-Besse for handling of new issue," John Funk, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

OAK HARBOR -- "Davis-Besse working to improve safety," WTOL TV-11 (CBS), Toledo.

SANDUSKY -- "Non-nuclear Davis-Besse would take a while," editorial, Sandusky Register.

Oct 16, 4:00 PM: FirstEnergy slide continues; loses 10.7% of value in two trading days

NEW YORK -- By today's closing bell, FirstEnergy stock had fallen again to 26.30 on the New York Stock Exchange. This is a drop of 10.7% in two days of trading. Its closing price on Monday, October 14, was 29.48.

Oct 16: FirstEnergy stock falls as market gains

NEW YORK -- "The decline came as Merrill Lynch analyst Steven Fleishman lowered his estimate of FirstEnergy's 2003 earnings by 5 cents, to $3.35 per share, because of possible new boric acid leaks in the reactor - this time on the bottom - which could require additional expensive repairs. . . 'Certainly Davis-Besse has had an impact,' said [FirstEnergy spokesman] Ralph DiNicola. 'But can anybody in the country explain the swing in the price of a stock? We have had days when there was a $2 increase,'" John Funk, John Mangels, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

COLUMBUS -- "Complaint about Davis-Besse licensed engineers, per Ohio Revised Code, Chapter 4733," complaint to Ohio Engineers and Surveyors Board, Joseph P. Carson, P.E., dated Oct 15, 2002.

OAK HARBOR -- "Nuclear Regulatory Commission: Ohio plant didn't check workers well enough," John Seewer, Associated Press.

TOKYO -- "New Tokyo Electric Power Company head vows change," Juro Osawa, Asahi Shimbun.

TOKYO -- "Nippon Keidanren [Japan Business Federation] beefs up its corporate charter," Japan Times.

Oct 15: Hagan fires nuke at Taft

CLEVELAND -- "The nearly football-size rust hole in the lid of the Davis-Besse nuclear reactor became a political football yesterday. Gov. Bob Taft dropped that ball long ago, said his Democratic challenger, Tim Hagan. That's because Taft has not used his office to make it clear that the state will not allow plant operator FirstEnergy Corp. - or federal regulators - to put the public in jeopardy in the push to repair and restart the damaged reactor, Hagan said. A Taft spokesman said the governor has been keeping close watch on the situation at Davis-Besse. . . .An analysis of state campaign contribution records from 1997 to 2000 by Ohio Citizen Action showed that FirstEnergy's political action committees, employees, board members and lobbyists contributed $30,650 to Taft, said Catherine Turcer, the group's campaign reform director," John Funk, John Mangels, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

OAK HARBOR -- "Hagan: Taft ignores Davis-Besse perils," Toledo Blade.

Oct 14: Do it right

CLEVELAND -- "There is only one way for FirstEnergy Corp. and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to redeem themselves for their egregious errors in judgment that allowed the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant to operate as long as it did with a dangerously corroded reactor head. The unit should not be restarted until the regulatory agency is certain beyond the shadow of a doubt that any and all structural, mechanical and procedural problems at Davis-Besse have been addressed and the safe operation of the plant has been assured. . . .But what's truly mind-boggling is the NRC's decision last fall to let the plant keep operating through most of the winter despite suspicions by its staff that the reactor's lid had cracks," editorial, Crain's Cleveland Business.

WASHINGTON, DC -- "Davis-Besse and the Millstone Nuclear Power Station, Waterford, Connecticut," letter to Nuclear Regulatory Commission from David Lochbaum, Nuclear safety engineer, Union of Concerned Scientists, (284 KB pdf).

Oct 13: Acid stains discovered on bottom of reactor
Testing being done to determine origin

OAK HARBOR -- "[FirstEnergy spokesman Todd Schneider said] 'This is the first time we’ve looked at the bottom of the reactor because the bottom has been covered in insulation.' The nearly transparent, whitish streaks containing boric acid along the sides and bottom of the reactor vessel were discovered in June. The streaks could have been an early clue that acid was pooling on the head, Schneider said. Workers originally thought the acid was coming from equipment above the head. . . . Mr. Schneider said results of lab tests on the stains will be available later this week. He said it was too early to determine if they would cause any delay in reopening Davis-Besse," Toledo Blade.

Oct 12: Inspectors find new signs of rust at Davis-Besse

OAK HARBOR -- "In a potentially serious new development, inspectors have found rust stains where they had not found them before - on the bottom of the Davis-Besse nuclear reactor. For the last seven months, officials at Davis-Besse and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission have been focused on rust on the reactor's lid -- where leaking nozzles that passed through the lid ate a dangerous, footprint-sized hole. Rust at the opposite end of the reactor could mean that nozzles there may also have been leaking and causing corrosion in recent years. If laboratory tests now under way show the nozzles are cracked and that reactor coolant has been seeping out, repairs could pose another major obstacle to restarting the facility, which has been shut down since February," John Funk, John Mangels, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

OAK HARBOR -- "Acid stains found on bottom of Davis-Besse reactor," Associated Press.

OAK HARBOR -- "More problems at Davis-Besse," WTOL-TV Channel 11 (CBS).

Oct 11: The NRC's failures

TOLEDO -- "NRC staff concluded that Davis-Besse was a safety hazard that should be shut down immediately. But NRC management vetoed it. Management let Davis-Besse stay in operation for almost two months, with safety systems degraded. Why? Because an NRC manager felt an earlier shutdown would put a dent in FirstEnergy’s profits, according to [Union of Concerned Scientists' David] Lochbaum's documents. The NRC's sole concern should have been public safety, not the profit margin of a utility it was supposed to be regulating. That's just one example of what may be a dangerous institutional culture at the NRC, in which managers have lost sight of the agency’s statutory role. Others have come to light thanks to Mr. Lochbaum's effectiveness as a professional gadfly," editorial, Toledo Blade.
TOKYO -- "Tokyo Electric Power Company finds more fractures at Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant," Kyodo News [No link].

Oct 10: Problems at Ohio's Davis-Besse found in another nuclear plant

WASHINGTON, DC -- "At least one other nuclear power plant has recently found the kind of leaks and cracks that led to severe problems at Ohio's Davis-Besse nuclear plant. The extent of leaking boric acid at the North Anna nuclear station, north of Richmond, Va., pales when compared with what happened at Davis-Besse, according to interviews and an incident report filed this week with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. But the North Anna cracks, along with isolated cracks found at several other plants over the last year, are indicative of the serious problems and safety risks the nation faces as its nuclear power plants age, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists," Stephen Koff, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

WASHINGTON, DC -- "Feds on Davis-Besse: Blame us, too," John Mangels, John Funk, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

OAK HARBOR -- "Lessons Learned Task Force: NRC officials admit own failure with Davis-Besse plant; Agency cites distraction, poor inspection policies," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Oct 9: Four in House urge Davis-Besse study

WASHINGTON, DC -- "Four northern Ohio members of Congress have joined with the consumer watchdog group Ohio Citizen Action in urging FirstEnergy Corp. to investigate whether converting the Davis-Besse nuclear power station to coal or oil would be feasible. Democratic U.S. Reps. Dennis Kucinich and Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Cleveland, Rep. Sherrod Brown of Lorain and Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Toledo have written to the company. FirstEnergy spokesman Ralph DiNicola said the utility is focused on repairing and restarting the plant near Toledo as a nuclear facility early next year. Davis-Besse has been shut down since February," Cleveland Plain Dealer.

WASHINGTON, DC -- "Nuclear Regulatory Commission issue 'Lessons Learned' task force report on agency's handling of Davis-Besse reactor vessel head damage," release, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

WASHINGTON, DC -- "NRC task force says Ohio reactor debacle was preventable," Dow Jones.

TOLEDO -- "NRC says it could have found Davis-Besse damage earlier," Associated Press.

WASHINGTON, DC -- "Cracks at Virginia nuke plant mirror Ohio near-miss; Problem suggests industry-wide negligence; North Anna operated for months, perhaps years, with cracks in critical safety lid," Paul Fain, David Lochbaum, Union of Concerned Scientists, (44KB pdf).

WASHINGTON, DC -- "One of Davis-Besse’s many missed opportunities: Failure to diagnose steadily rising radiation levels inside containment," David Lochbaum, Union of Concerned Scientists, (198 KB pdf).

BRATTLEBORO, VT -- "How safe are aging reactors? ," Meggan Clark, Brattleboro Reformer, article published Dec 28, 2001.

Oct 8: Davis-Besse restart costs soar
FirstEnergy will 'expense' $115M for additional repairs

OAK HARBOR -- "The parent firm's announcement brings the estimated cost of repairs and maintenance at Davis-Besse to between $350 million and $435 million, provided the plant is allowed to start by early next year. . . . Also yesterday, four members of Congress from Ohio, including Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo), signed a statement encouraging Davis-Besse to convene a task force to study the feasibility of using a different type of fuel at the plant. The idea was proposed by the group Ohio Citizen Action last week. 'Given the age of the facility, given the embattled reactor, it should be an option,' said Amy Ryder, Ohio Citizen Action's program director in Cleveland," Kelly Lecker, Toledo Blade.
Photo: Peter Burg, Chairman and CEO, FirstEnergy.

AKRON -- "Davis-Besse costs skyrocket; FirstEnergy says profits to take hit as repairs may be as much as $115 million more," Mary Ethridge, Akron Beacon Journal.

CARROLL TOWNSHIP -- "Restart of Davis-Besse pushed back; Early next year possible," Jennifer Funk, Port Clinton News Herald.

CLEVELAND -- "Davis-Besse start-up is pushed back," John Funk, John Mangels, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

WASHINGTON, DC -- "Kaptur, other Ohio lawmakers: Consider alternative fuel source," Port Clinton News Herald.

NEW YORK -- "Standard and Poors comments on FirstEnergy Corp," Reuters.

COLUMBUS -- "3 counties to pass out potassium iodide pills; Doses fight nuclear-accident poison," David Lore, Columbus Dispatch. [No link to full text. The Columbus Dispatch now charges $4.95/month for internet access.]

Oct 7: Four Ohio Congress members want study of Davis-Besse repowering

WASHINGTON, DC -- "U.S. Representatives Dennis Kucinich, Marcy Kaptur, Sherrod Brown and Stephanie Tubbs Jones today asked FirstEnergy Corp to investigate the possibility of repowering Davis-Besse with an alternative source of fuel. The four representatives issued a joint statement: 'In the interest of protecting public safety and a strong future for FirstEnergy, I encourage FirstEnergy to immediately convene a task force of engineering and financial specialists from inside and outside the company to determine the feasibility of repowering Davis-Besse with an alternative source of fuel,'" Amy Ryder, Beatrice Miringu, release, Ohio Citizen Action.
Full statement.

Oct 7: FirstEnergy now sets Davis-Besse "restart early next year, rather than by year-end"

AKRON -- "Based on the additional work discussed in this news release and associated regulatory review, FENOC now expects the plant to be ready for restart early next year, rather than by year-end. This change in schedule is designed to further ensure that related work is completed in accordance with all applicable requirements, with the continued understanding that restart is subject to NRC review and approval," release, FirstEnergy.

AKRON -- "Davis Besse restart now expected early 2003," Akron Beacon Journal.

AKRON -- "Repair costs jump at Ohio nuke site," Associated Press.

CLEVELAND -- "Status of Ohio's nine nuclear reactors," Ohio Citizen Action.

Oct 6:
Citizen letters to Peter Burg: 5,530
Peter Burg replies: 0

CLEVELAND -- As of Friday, September 29, 5,530 northern Ohio families had sent handwritten letters to Peter Burg, Chairman, FirstEnergy, urging that he keep the Davis-Besse reactor closed. Burg has replied to none of these letters, Ohio Citizen Action.

Oct 5: WASHINGTON, DC -- "Groups say cost affected shutdown; Commission denies finances considered in Davis-Besse decision," Associated Press.

OAK HARBOR -- "Activists question NRC’s motivation; Agency defends Davis-Besse action," Toledo Blade.

Oct 4: Davis-Besse bosses broke rules, NRC finds

OAK HARBOR -- "The Davis-Besse nuclear power plant's managers repeatedly violated federal rules when they created inaccurate and incomplete reports about the condition of the reactor over the last decade, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission concluded yesterday. The NRC said that FirstEnergy submitted inaccurate documents to the agency in the fall of 2001 when the company was arguing that it should not have to shut down by year's end for a special inspection. In a deal cut in late November, the NRC agreed to allow Davis-Besse to operate until Feb. 16 instead of shutting it by Dec. 31," John Mangels, John Funk, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

OAK HARBOR -- "Inspectors hint at 10 violations for plant," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

TOLEDO -- "Government details Davis-Besse violations; Report says FirstEnergy violated operating rules," John Seewer, Associated Press.

CARROLL TOWNSHIP -- "NRC cites 10 reactor head violations; Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Plant," Jennifer Funk, Port Clinton News Herald.

OAK HARBOR -- " Nuclear plant ruling under fire," John Mangels, John Funk, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

OAK HARBOR -- "Nuclear watchdogs argue Davis-Besse shutdown delay was cost-related," Akron Beacon Journal.

PORT CLINTON -- "Converting Davis-Besse to gas or coal is not the answer," editorial, Port Clinton News Herald.

OAK HARBOR -- "Terrorism ruled out in nuke plant incident," Steve Murphy, Toledo Blade.

Oct 3: Ads aim at shutting a-plant

Link to interactive mapCLEVELAND -- "Environmentalists will start running a series of advertisements today to turn up the pressure on Gov. George E. Pataki to shut down the Indian Point nuclear power plant, which they call a terrorist target and a threat to millions of people. The ads, financed by the group Riverkeeper, include an ominous television spot with satellite views of Indian Point at the center of an immense bull's-eye. The narrator speaks of the 'evacuation zone' and 'peak fatality zone,' and says, 'within the peak injury zone, there are some pretty big towns,' as the camera zooms in to Manhattan. Riverkeeper's campaign raises the volume and the political stakes of one of the most heated issues in the Hudson Valley," Richard Perez-Pena, New York Times.
MORE ON RIVERKEEPER AND THE INDIAN POINT PLANT

Oct 3: Man arrested with gun at nuclear plant

OAK HARBOR -- "A man trying to enter the Davis Besse nuclear power plant yesterday with a loaded handgun under the seat of his van was charged with two misdemeanor weapons offenses, Ottawa County sheriff’s deputies said. Horace Makodym, 54, of Parma, Ohio, was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and improper transportation of a weapon. He was being held in the Ottawa County Jail in lieu of $8,000 bond," Kelly Lecker, Toledo Blade.

Oct 2: Nuclear workers contaminated

CLEVELAND -- "Two workers who repaired a steam generator in the heart of the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant last February inhaled or ingested highly radioactive particles from the reactor's damaged fuel rods, say federal regulators who have expanded their investigation into the incident. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission yesterday dispatched a five-member team of radiation specialists to the Toledo-area power station to examine Davis-Besse's radiation detection equipment and review the procedures the plant management is supposed to enforce when workers enter radioactive areas," John Funk, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

OAK HARBOR -- "Feds test Davis-Besse contractors; Exposure levels are questioned," Kelly Lecker, Toledo Blade.

WASHINGTON, DC -- "Workers' radiation exposure probed; Regulators study health risk to 5 from Davis-Besse, Associated Press.

OAK HARBOR -- "Man arrested with gun at Davis-Besse," WTOL-TV11 (CBS) Toledo.

TOKYO -- "Discoveries continue in Fukushima; New potential crack sites found on reactor shroud," Japan Times.

TOKYO -- "Japan utility firm faces warning," Associated Press.

Oct 1: Activists push converting Davis-Besse to other fuel

Fort St. Vrain Power Station

Fort St. Vrain station in Platteville, Colorado, once a nuclear
plant, now a natural gas-fired power plant.


CLEVELAND -- "The damaged Davis-Besse nuclear plant would be safer and would better serve its neighbors and stockholders by converting from atomic power to coal- or gas-fired methods of making electricity, a statewide activist group says. . . . In a letter yesterday, Citizen Action asked FirstEnergy Chief Executive Peter Burg to form a task force of engineers and financial analysts to study a repowering of the 25-year-old plant. The lid cracks - and newly discovered fissures in the lid's stainless-steel liner -- are just the first of a range of age-related problems that Davis-Besse and other plants in the nation's nuclear fleet can expect, said Amy Ryder, director of Citizen Action's Cleveland office. Non-nuclear methods, while not pollution-free, are 'far safer means of generating electricity,'" John Funk, John Mangels, Cleveland Plain Dealer.
OAK HARBOR -- "Activist group wants nuclear plant to go non-nuclear," Associated Press.

CLEVELAND -- "Retooling at Davis-Besse plant," Karen Schaefer, Ohio Public Radio.

TOLEDO -- "Even more Davis-Besse problems," WTVG-TV13 Toledo (ABC).

WASHINGTON, DC -- "Nuclear Regulatory Commission expands special inspection of worker radiation exposures at Davis-Besse," Jan Strasma, release, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Sep 30: '88 warning was rejected at damaged nuclear plant

WASHINGTON, DC -- "[Howard] Whitcomb, a former Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspector who was hired by the owners of the Davis-Besse reactor, near Toledo, Ohio, to write a report on what was wrong with maintenance there, concluded in 1988 that management so disdained its craft workers that it had lost touch with the condition of the plant. Top executives responded swiftly and decisively, he said: They ordered him to change his report. He quit instead. . . . That finding in the report, a copy of which was provided to The New York Times by Ohio Citizen Action, a nonprofit group that has raised many safety questions about the reactor, seems prescient. 'If they followed the advice of 20 years ago, we wouldn't be here now,' said Amy K. Ryder, the group's program director in the Cleveland area," Matthew Wald, New York Times.

PORT CLINTON -- "Personnel moves just one step at Davis-Besse," editorial, Port Clinton News Herald.

OAK HARBOR -- "Flaw plagues Ohio nuclear plant," Tim Jones, Chicago Tribune.

Sep 28: Indian Point evacuation drill gets high marks

HARRISON, NY -- "Alex Matthiessen, director of the environmental group Riverkeeper, which has been seeking to close the nuclear plants, said the drill was unrealistic because the radiation 'release' into the environment occurred over several hours, while a successful terrorist attack would leave as little as an hour to get people to safety. 'It is astonishing that a year after 9/11, you guys refuse to acknowledge the real problems we may have to face,' Matthiessen said during the briefing. 'I am not sure how you sleep at night, glossing over the concerns of this community for this plan, which succeeded based on your scenario while ignoring a real-life scenario,'" Roger Witherspoon, New York Journal News.

Sep 27: Nuclear plant owner withdraws bid for filing extension

LACEY, N.J. -- "The owner of the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant has withdrawn its request for more time to submit an operating license renewal application. The decision announced Wednesday means AmerGen Energy must notify the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of its plans for the Lacey facility by April 9, 2004. AmerGen could ask to have the license renewed for up to 20 years or it could decide to close the plant, which is the nation's oldest commercial nuclear plant,"Associated Press.
MORE ON OYSTER CREEK

Sep 27: House quietly ends Davis-Besse probe

WASHINGTON, DC -- "An investigation of the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant has ended quietly in Congress, with no new charges or hearings on how the plant was allowed to flirt with disaster. But the way the investigation ended has raised questions about whether the House Energy and Commerce Committee was ever committed to looking deeply into the Davis-Besse debacle. As recently as last week, a committee spokesman said the investigation was continuing, though no hearings were expected before Congress breaks for the November elections.That's flabbergasting," Paul Gunter of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service said when told the congressional investigation is over. However, he acknowledged, "We were skeptical from the very beginning that this effort was ever going to go beyond the surface,""Stephen Koff, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Sep 26: Taxpayers to owe billions for nuclear waste storage

WASHINGTON, DC -- "A federal appeals court has ruled that billions of dollars in damages that the Energy Department is likely to owe to nuclear reactor owners for its failure to store nuclear waste will have to come from taxpayers, not electricity consumers. The Energy Department signed contracts with reactor owners in the early 1980's promising to accept their wastes for burial beginning in January 1998, in exchange for payments from them based on electricity production. To date, reactor owners have paid more than $10.5 billion. But now the department says it cannot take waste until 2010, and the operators of the reactors are suing because they have been forced to store the waste on site," Matthew Wald, New York Times.

Sep 25: State should stay the course in electric restructuring, utility officials say

COLUMBUS -- "FirstEnergy President Tony Alexander said his company has seen 800,000 customers choose alternative suppliers - most migrating through government aggregation programs. Because of that high switching rate, he said FirstEnergy has or will soon reach the mandated 20% switching rate. He said, however, that the success of restructuring will be determined by generation supply. . . . Questioned by Rep. Tom Niehaus (R-New Richmond), Mr. Alexander said the estimated $2 billion baseload plant cost is almost prohibitive, especially with utilities operating without guaranteed revenues. 'I think it's going to be more and more difficult to come up with that kind of cash,' he said," Gongwer.

CARROLL TOWNSHIP -- "Shakeup tied to corrosion woes; Company won't say how many workers affected," Jennifer Funk, Port Clinton News Herald.

Sep 25: Drill at Indian Point tests emergency response

HARRISON, NY -- "An expert in emergency planning hired by Gov. George Pataki who monitored the drill as part of an evaluation of the emergency response plan said that element of the drill probably was unrealistic. 'The hypothetical scenario with no traffic problems I would not consider a high probability in real circumstances,' said James Lee Witt, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. . . By 1:54 p.m., Entergy declared a general emergency, the highest level of alert, but the information was not made public for another hour. Officials said the release occurred during their previous press conference, and they had not been informed," Roger Witherspoon, New York Journal News.

Sep 24: Nuclear Regulatory Commission:
Inspection errors hinder Davis-Besse restart

WASHINGTON, DC -- "Flaws in FirstEnergy Corp.'s inspections this summer to judge how badly leaking coolant damaged its Davis-Besse nuclear plant have drawn extra federal scrutiny and a possible delay in the reactor's restart. The inspection gaffes broke two Nuclear Regulatory Commission rules, the agency announced in a report released yesterday. One violation had to do with incomplete guidelines the inspectors follow; the other involved insufficient training," John Mangels, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

OAK HARBOR -- "Nuclear plant cited by regulators for violating procedures; FirstEnergy sticks to Dec. 4 restart," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Sep 22: Cracks appear in NRC's new rules

WASHINGTON, DC -- "'We had a lot of problems with the NRC, and we realized we were not going to get the NRC's attention unless we went to their boss,' recalls [Steve Floyd, Nuclear Energy Institute senior director of regulatory reform]. 'And Congress is their boss.' One longtime nuclear-power supporter, Sen. Pete Domenici, a New Mexico Republican, chaired a Senate appropriations subcommittee that oversaw the NRC's budget. In a hearing in spring 1998, he told the agency to back off -- or he'd cut its budget for plant inspections by 40 percent," Stephen Koff, Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Photo: U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici (New Mexico).

Sep 21: Should county be evacuated if nuke plants hit?

LANCASTER, PA -- "All Lancaster County residents would be evacuated in case of an accident or successful terrorist attack at the Three Mile Island or Peach Bottom nuclear plant, under a new homeland security proposal by a state lawmaker. Rep. Mike Veon, a Democrat from Beaver County, and House minority whip, said the current 10-mile evacuation zone is inadequate. 'If you live outside that 10-mile radius, then you are on your own,' Veon said. 'We have to revisit emergency plans and expand the radius of protection because we are not simply talking about a leak or other accident at a nuclear reactor. We are now talking about an attack that would seriously impact our time to react,'" Lancaster New Era.

Sep 20: More staff punished for reactor lid's hole

OAK HARBOR -- "The fallout from the discovery this spring of a big rust hole in the Davis-Besse nuclear reactor lid continues to spread, with a new round of firings and disciplinary actions against managers and staff. This week, a special NRC panel overseeing repairs and reforms at the plant pressed FirstEnergy managers to explain "inaccurate and incomplete" company maintenance records that reported the reactor lid was free of corrosion when it was not. FirstEnergy officials acknowledged at a Wednesday meeting with the NRC that the reports were misleading. The NRC's criminal investigations arm is trying to determine whether FirstEnergy's actions were meant to deliberately deceive the agency," John Funk, John Mangels, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

OAK HARBOR -- "Changes, dismissals occur at Davis-Besse," Kelly Lecker, Toledo Blade.

Sep 20: Experts say nuclear plants can survive jetliner crash

WASHINGTON -- "Seeking to counter assertions that the nation's nuclear plants are vulnerable to attacks like the one on the World Trade Center, 19 prominent nuclear experts have concluded that a reactor containment building could easily withstand the force of a jetliner crash. But the federal laboratory that conducted a major test cited by the experts says its experiment was not meant to demonstrate anything about reactors' structural soundness. Whether a containment building is the soft spot of a nuclear plant is also not clear. Most of the radioactivity in a power plant is in the spent fuel pool, which, critics note, is usually in a building that is far less sturdy," Matthew L. Wald, New York Times.

Sep 19: Probe, low morale hound Davis-Besse

OAK HARBOR -- "Two new obstacles surfaced yesterday to FirstEnergy Corp.'s aggressive schedule for getting the Davis-Besse nuclear plant back into operation by Dec. 7. One is the high level of distrust that plant workers have toward the new management, as shown by an employee survey made public yesterday during a meeting between Davis-Besse's top brass and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The second hurdle is the NRC's criminal investigation into whether the 'inaccurate and incomplete' reactor maintenance records the agency says FirstEnergy kept were meant to keep data from the government," John Funk, John Mangels, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

OAK HARBOR -- "Safety first, FirstEnergy says; But Davis-Besse not there yet, says Nuclear Regulatory Commission," Jim Mackinnon, Akron Beacon Journal.

OAK HARBOR -- "Operators quizzed on reactor oversight; Procedures revised, Besse officials assert," Kelly Lecker, Toledo Blade.

CARROLL TOWNSHIP -- "FirstEnergy unveils its fix-up package," Jennifer Funk, Port Clinton News Herald.

CHICAGO -- "FirstEnergy expects some Davis-Besse outage costs to grow," Dow Jones.

Sep 18: Davis-Besse plans winter restart

OAK HARBOR -- "On Oct. 30, Davis-Besse managers hope to reload the reactor's radioactive fuel rods into the core. On Nov. 3, they'll bolt down the new lid. After tests, the reactor will be brought up to its normal 605-degree operating temperature on Nov. 19, and 15 days later, if the NRC gives its approval, the reactor would be restarted. It should be at full power by Dec. 7. But all that depends on the successful resolution of more than 1,400 reports citing conditions within the plant that need to be corrected. The restart also will require the approval of the NRC's Midwest regional director and other officials," Akron Beacon Journal.

OAK HARBOR -- "Davis-Besse eyes Dec. 7 restart; NRC has reservations," Jennifer Funk, Port Clinton News Herald.

OAK HARBOR -- "Davis-Besse operator sees winter restart," John Mangels, John Funk, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

OAK HARBOR -- "Utility aims for Davis-Besse restart this year," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

OAK HARBOR -- "Reactor still facing many tests; Even as FirstEnergy aims for Dec. 7 restart, trouble persists at Davis-Besse," Jim Mackinnon, Akron Beacon Journal.

Sep 15: Davis-Besse, bad to worse

TOLEDO -- "FirstEnergy has maintained Davis-Besse was not close to a major accident because the liner was strong enough to keep acid away from the reactor vessel. That may have to be revisited with the latest revelations about cracks and corrosion. Only after northwest Ohio learns to what extent its safety was in jeopardy when Davis-Besse was operating last year can the Nuclear Regulatory Commission act on the plant’s future and dictate appropriate penalties. But it is abundantly clear with the continuing investigations of plant operations that a dangerous dereliction of official duty led to unacceptable risks of harm," editorial, Toledo Blade.
Photo: Davis-Besse reactor head inspection area (Nuclear Regulatory Commission photo).

Sep 14: Power plant to install new reactor heads as precaution

RICHMOND, VA -- "'It’s not anything like Davis-Besse,' Dominion spokesman Richard Zuercher said, adding that the Virginia plants are going through the process of renewing their operating licenses. 'We want to detect problems early and fix them.' The NRC has said none of the 68 nuclear plants inspected after the leaks were found has anywhere near the corrosion found at Davis-Besse," Kelly Lecker, Toledo Blade.

Sep 13: Photos:
Davis-Besse is a lemon
Citizens make lemonade

CLEVELAND -- Ohio Citizen Action staff gave away free lemonade outside of FirstEnergy's downtown bill pay center. People stopped by to enjoy a cup of lemonade and sign a support statement to keep the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant closed permanently.

Sep 13: FirstEnergy to cut 350 jobs
Most to come from Akron, Reading, Pa.
39 positions axed Thursday, 14 locally

AKRON -- "FirstEnergy Corp. plans to eliminate 350 jobs next year and in 2004, with the bulk coming from Akron and Reading, Pa., offices, as part of a program to save up to $135 million annually in salaries and other costs by 2006. A study started in March identified the areas where the company will make the reductions, Ralph DiNicola said. The company has been making staffing cutbacks following its acquisition of New Jersey-based GPU Inc. last year. The positions identified for elimination don't fit into the electric utility industry's less-regulated environment, DiNicola said," Jim Mackinnon, Akron Beacon Journal.

LORAIN -- "FirstEnergy lays off 17 at plant," Dan Harkins, Elyria Chronicle Telegram.

LORAIN -- "FirstEnergy powers down unit," Crain's Cleveland Business.

Sep 12: Nuclear power plant security:
Voices from inside the fences

WASHINGTON, DC -- "Security guards at only one of four nuclear power plants are confident their plant could defeat a terrorist attack, according to interviews conducted by the Project on Government Oversight for this report. . . . The security guards say morale is currently very low and that they are under-manned, under-equipped, under-trained, and underpaid," Project on Government Oversight.

WASHINGTON, DC -- "Surveyed reactor guards feel vulnerable," Matthew Wald, New York Times.

Sep 12: One hole down, one to go

WASHINGTON, DC -- "Unacceptable leakage was in fact accepted for many years. As feared, it resulted in continued degradation of the reactor coolant pressure boundary; namely, the reactor vessel head. Safety regulations and the plant’s operating license prohibit continued operation with reactor coolant pressure boundary leakage, yet the plant operated in that prohibited condition for many years. Why? The reason is simple: plant workers and NRC inspectors always assume that "unidentified" leakage comes from anyplace other than the reactor coolant pressure boundary. Thus, as "unidentified" leak rates of 0.1, 0.2, and up to 0.8 gallons per minute were dutifully recorded on a hourly basis after the cracked CRDM nozzle began leaking sometime between 1994 and 1996, no one presumed that even a single drop could be coming from the reactor coolant pressure boundary. No one. Not a single drop," David Lochbaum, Nuclear Safety Engineer, Union of Concerned Scientists.

RICHMOND, VA -- "Dominion orders four new reactor heads for U.S. nukes," Reuters.

Sep 11: Nuclear plant's liner thinner than first thought

OAK HARBOR -- "The liner was supposedly three-eighths of an inch thick. But testing determined that the liner was significantly thinner in places - in one location nearly 50 percent thinner - than plant owner FirstEnergy Corp. believed. Officials of Davis-Besse and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission don't know how or when the cracks formed, or even how deep they go, and said Tuesday that they are still reviewing the findings. But the presence of cracks raise questions about whether the barrier was as strong as FirstEnergy Corp. has said and how much longer it would have been able to withstand the reactor's operating pressures," Associated Press.

OAK HARBOR -- " Tests on Davis-Besse reactor reveal more cracks, corrosion ," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Sep 10: Nuclear safety: Uh-oh in Ohio

CHICAGO -- "Beginning in approximately 1996, the boric acid deposits grew and changed in consistency until about 70 percent of the vessel head was covered with a hard, lava-like coating ranging from 1–3 inches thick. Somehow, in this environment—no one understands the mechanics of it yet—a pit in the carbon steel began to corrode rapidly. The NRC documented boric acid corrosion of carbon steel components as early as 1979. In 1987 the NRC issued an information notice to operators of pressurized water reactors about an incident at the Turkey Point 4 reactor: 'Another severe instance of boric acid-induced corrosion of ferritic [carbon] steel components on the pressure boundary of a [pressurized water reactor].' More than 500 pounds of boric acid accumulation had to be removed in that case. (Nine-hundred pounds of deposits were removed at Davis-Besse)," Catherine Auer, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, July-August 2002.

OAK HARBOR -- "NRC to update residents on efforts at power plant," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

CLEVELAND -- "Security tighter, but not enough say nuclear watchdogs, Karen Schaefer, Ohio Public Radio.

Sep 9: Davis-Besse: Don't hurry back

CLEVELAND -- "In short, that rotted lid is a symbol of a rotten system of inspections by the company and the NRC. And if it's rotten in Toledo, are there problems elsewhere, too? The probes by the GAO and others may not answer that question, but the question must at least be treated seriously. The NRC and FirstEnergy botched critical safety inspections, and it would be well worth knowing how to prevent such a thing from happening again. FirstEnergy may not think that information is worth waiting for, but we do," editorial, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Sep 7: More Davis-Besse meetings September 17-18

OAK HARBOR -- "A third meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. Sept. 18 at the Davis-Besse Energy Education Center, 5501 N. Ohio 2. Topic: FirstEnergy's proposed plan to address management, organizational and human performance issues. These factors were discussed during an Aug. 15 public meeting in Lisle, Ill., as the root causes believed to have led to the corrosion problem," Rick Neale, Port Clinton News Herald.

Sep 6: Davis-Besse did nothing criminal, firm reports

CLEVELAND -- "The staff and management of the Davis-Besse nuclear plant made poor decisions in operating the reactor and dealing with federal regulators, but did nothing to break the law, according to FirstEnergy Corp."While they certainly found . . . decisions that we wish had been made differently, actions we wish had been done differently . . . our outside counsel has not found any activities . . . which would rise to criminal," said FirstEnergy vice president Terrance Howson," John Funk, John Mangels, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Sep 5: GAO opens Davis-Besse inquiry

WASHINGTON, DC -- "The investigative arm of Congress will look into why federal regulators allowed the Davis-Besse nuclear plant to continue operating last winter when government engineers suspected it was leaking reactor coolant. The General Accounting Office's decision to take up the case, at the request of U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Cleveland, brings to seven the number of probes into the troubled Toledo-area plant and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's oversight of it. The plant has been idle since workers in March discovered a large, long-festering rust hole in the reactor's lid," John Funk, John Mangels, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

OAK HARBOR -- "Congressional investigators to look into Davis-Besse problems," Associated Press.

Sep 4: Nuclear-accident pills are still undistributed

CLEVELAND -- "Even though the country's nuclear plants remain on the highest security alert following the Sept. 11 attacks, [Roger Suppes, chief of the Ohio Department of Health's Bureau of Radiation Protection] said it was not urgent to get 639,000 pills to the estimated 319,500 Ohioans eligible for them," Susan Jaffe, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Sep 1: Next question: Why weren’t the slip-ups at Davis-Besse discovered earlier?
3 investigations direct scrutiny at the federal watchdog agency
Reactor head moved into nuclear plant

OAK HARBOR -- "The Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 1997 called Davis-Besse one of the best-run nuclear plants in the Midwest, if not the country. It gave the plant high marks in subsequent inspections throughout the 1990s. It wasn’t until recently, when the corroded head was found, that it came out that problems at the plant included a tendency by management to put production before safety and not to find and fix problems as they occurred. That shortcoming, company officials have said, led to the corrosion problem that one former regulator has called the closest brush with disaster in the nuclear industry since the Three Mile Island incident," Kelly Lecker, Toledo Blade.