FirstEnergy and Davis-Besse

Sep 11, 2009: NRC gives Davis-Besse plant the all-clear


Perched on a tree to the left of the Davis-Besse nuclear plant cooling tower is an adult bald eagle (Photo by Bill Thompson III).

WASHINGTON, DC -- "The Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Friday returned FirstEnergy’s Davis-Besse nuclear power plant to a normal schedule of oversight and inspection after five years of more intensive scrutiny following its restart in 2004. The Ohio plant was closed in 2002 after inspectors found that an acid leak had nearly eaten through the reactor’s 6-inch-thick steel cap. The corrosion at the plant near Oak Harbor was the worst ever found at a U.S. reactor. . . Sandy Buchanan, executive director of Ohio Citizen Action in Cleveland, said she hopes the NRC will continue to keep a watchful eye on the power plant. 'We had many assurances about how well things were going shortly before the hole was found all those years ago,' Buchanan said," Gannett.

Aug 31, 2009: Penalties nixed for ex-worker at Davis-Besse

ROCKVILLE, MD -- "A review panel has dismissed sanctions the government had taken against former Davis-Besse engineering supervisor David Geisen. On a 2-1 vote, it said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission failed to prove he intentionally deceived the commission when the plant's reactor head nearly burst in 2001. The decision allows Geisen to begin seeking another job in the nuclear industry... The cover-up has been described as one of the largest in U.S. nuclear history. Acid that leaked through Davis-Besse's old reactor head burned a six-inch cavity into the massive steel lid. That exposed a thin stainless-steel liner, which started to bulge and crack. Had it burst, radioactive steam would have formed in containment of a U.S. nuclear vessel for the first time since the half-core meltdown of the Three Mile Island Unit 2 reactor in Pennsylvania in 1979," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade. Published August 29th.

July 28, 2009: Uranium facility's loan plan is a no-go

A test plant at Piketon, which the U.S. Dept. of Energy is using to test the technology for enriching uranium.
WASHINGTON, DC -- "The Obama administration will not grant a $2 billion loan guarantee for a planned uranium-enrichment facility in Piketon, Ohio, causing the initiative to go into financial meltdown, the company and independent sources confirmed last night. The U.S. Department of Energy's decision means 'we are now forced to initiate steps to demobilize the project,' said Elizabeth Stuckle, a spokeswoman for USEC. That's the company that is trying to build the $3.5 billion advanced-technology plant on the same site where it ran the Cold War-era uranium-enrichment facility that has been shuttered since 2001... This is a separate project from the planned nuclear-power plant that a consortium of companies, including Duke Energy, recently announced for the Piketon site. The nuclear-power plant project could take a decade to come to fruition," Jonathan Riskind, Columbus Dispatch.

July 21, 2009: U.S. approves earlier return to nuclear job by ex-engineer

OAK HARBOR -- "The Nuclear Regulatory Commission Monday made it possible for former Davis-Besse engineer Andrew Siemaszko to resume his career in the nuclear industry as early as April. But Siemaszko - who was convicted last August of deceiving the government about the plant's dangerous operating condition in the fall of 2001 - would first have to get approval from his probation officer... Siemaszko, who has maintained his innocence, was one of four workers who prosecutors claimed were at the center of the cover-up. Three went to trial. But he also was one whom activists described as a whistleblower because of his attempts to get the reactor head cleaned before it went back into service. A federal judge denied him federal whistleblower protection," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

June 18, 2009: Long road to power
Energy companies and politicians hope to put a nuclear plant in Piketon, but approval processes likely will move at a snail's pace

COLUMBUS -- "An impressive lineup of energy-company executives and politicians will converge on the southern Ohio village of Piketon today to announce plans for a multibillion-dollar nuclear power plant there. But don't expect those same forces to reassemble soon for a groundbreaking... Critics say other forms of alternative energy, such as wind and solar, are better, cheaper and faster ways than nuclear to cut down on the emissions from coal-fired plants that contribute to global warming. 'It's a ridiculously expensive way to boil water,' said Sandy Buchanan, director of Ohio Citizen Action, an environmental advocacy group," Jonathan Riskind and Alan Johnson, Columbus Dispatch.

Mar 6, 2009: Future dim for nuclear waste repository

WASHINGTON, DC -- "President Obama’s proposed budget cuts off most money for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste project, a decision that fulfills a campaign promise and wins the president political points in Nevada — but raises new questions about what to do with radioactive waste from the nation’s nuclear power plants... Opponents of nuclear power contend that the nation’s failure to find a permanent repository for the waste is a reason to shut down nuclear reactors and forget about building more. Abandonment of the Yucca Mountain depository would be a blow for the nuclear industry, which is hoping to begin work on new reactors for the first time in 30 years," Matthew Wald, New York Times

Feb 9, 2009: Engineer receives probation for role in Besse cover-up

Andrew Siemaszko

TOLEDO -- "Former Davis-Besse engineer Andrew Siemaszko was sentenced Friday to three years probation and ordered to pay $4,500 in fines for his role in the Ottawa County nuclear plant's massive cover-up in the fall of 2001 that government prosecutors have called one of the most significant in the nation's nuclear history. Siemaszko was one of only two individuals convicted. Both could have received five years in prison and been fined $250,000 for each of the three felony deception charges they were convicted of 10 months apart in 2008 and 2007. Ultimately, neither got prison time. 'The only party to significantly gain was his employer, which already has paid a very large fine,' Judge David Katz of U.S. District Court in Toledo said before sentencing Siemaszko. FirstEnergy Corp., the nuclear plant's owner-operator, has paid a record $33.5 million in fines to settle civil and criminal probes that were undertaken after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was talked out of executing an emergency shutdown order it had prepared for Davis-Besse in the fall of 2001," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade. Published February 7.

Jan 30, 2009: Atomic Weight: Balancing the risks and rewards of a power source

TOLEDO -- "On Feb. 16, 2002, the nuclear power plant called Davis–Besse on the shores of Lake Erie near Toledo, Ohio, shut down. On inspection, a pineapple-size section on the 6.63-inch- (16.84-centimeter-) thick carbon steel lid that holds in the pressurized, fission-heated water in the site's sole reactor had been entirely eaten away by boric acid formed from a leak. The only thing standing between the escape of nuclear steam and a possible chain of events leading to a meltdown was an internal liner of stainless steel just three sixteenths of an inch (0.48 centimeter) thick that had slowly bent out about an eighth of an inch (0.32 centimeter) into the cavity due to the constant 2,200 pound-per–square-inch (155-kilogram-per-square-centimeter) pressure," David Biello, Scientific American.

Jan 9, 2009: Conviction upheld for Davis-Besse nuclear engineer

Andrew Siemaszko and his wife, Sandra, leave federal court. He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. (The Blade/Dave Zapotosky)
TOLEDO -- "Judge David Katz of U.S. District Court has upheld the guilty verdicts against Andrew Siemaszko, paving the way for the last of three men to be tried for the Davis-Besse cover-up to be sentenced Feb. 6. The judge acknowledged that Siemaszko's conviction was 'a close case,' but said he found 'sufficient circumstantial evidence upon which a reasonable jury could have based a finding of knowledge and intent.' Siemaszko, who lives in Spring, Texas, was convicted in August on three of five felony charges of deliberately misleading the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about the nuclear plant," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Dec 12, 2008: Attorneys say ex-worker not aware of Davis-Besse errors; Siemaszko's acquittal sought

TOLEDO -- "[Andrew Siemaszko's] attorneys, Washington-based Billie Garde and Chuck Boss of Maumee, yesterday said their client should be acquitted or given a new trial because the jury convicted him without the U.S. Department of Justice proving intent. The defense attorneys acknowledged errors in records Siemaszko generated or collaborated on. But they reminded the judge that multiple revisions were made by those higher up the FirstEnergy corporate ladder before the records were turned over to the NRC. 'The information presented by Mr. Siemaszko was accurate to the best of his knowledge, but he did not know how they were being altered above him,' Ms. Garde said," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Dec 8, 2008: Hearings slated for ex-engineers at Davis-Besse
Geisen seeks shorter work ban; Siemaszko, acquittal or new trial

TOLEDO -- "Two proceedings will be held this week for the pair of former Davis-Besse engineers convicted of covering up vital information about the Ottawa County nuclear plant weeks before its old reactor head nearly blew apart in 2002. The first will be at 9:30 a.m. today, when the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board starts hearing whether David Geisen should be allowed to resume work in the nuclear industry before his five-year ban from employment in it expires in January, 2011. On Thursday, Geisen's convicted co-conspirator, Andrew Siemaszko, will be in a Toledo courtroom asking Judge David Katz of U.S. District Court for an acquittal or new trial," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Oct 27, 2008: Officials to monitor Davis-Besse plant this week
Pipe leak posed no health threat

The containment tower at Davis-Besse
OAK HARBOR -- "A pipe leak that occurred at Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Plant was not considered a threat to public health, according to a spokesman with FirstEnergy, the plant’s owner. Advertisement Todd Schneider, a spokesman for FirstEnergy, said Sunday the plant was not evacuated and will not be on shutdown, 'but officials will be monitoring and performing testing on the site this week.' Schneider said the 3-inch carbon steel pipe was leaking tritium, a 'slightly radioactive' substance," Leslie Bixler, Port Clinton News Herald.

OAK HARBOR -- Radioactive material leaking from Davis-Besse, Tom Henry, Toledo Blade. Published October 24.

Sep 1, 2008: Ducking responsibility

TOLEDO -- "In the end, not one FirstEnergy bigwig was held to account personally for the near-calamity that shut down the Davis-Besse power plant in 2002. Instead, two former workers have now taken the fall for lying to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about what turned out to be the worst corrosion damage ever found on a U.S. nuclear reactor. But, as we have pointed out before, anyone who believes that the utility's senior managers and executives were entirely in the dark about what the three underlings were up to is arguably as naive as government regulators who trust utilities to police themselves. It seems highly improbable that any of the trio charged in the Davis-Besse case could have, or would have, acted on their own to keep the plant operating past a scheduled shutdown without any direct or implied nudge from higher-ups. Yet with the final verdict in the seven-year saga now rendered against a former nuclear plant engineer, we may never know what the bosses knew," editorial,

Aug 27, 2008: Ex-engineer found guilty of concealing Davis-Besse dangers

TOLEDO -- "Former FirstEnergy Corp. engineer Andrew Siemaszko was convicted yesterday on three of five counts of intentionally misleading federal regulators about the danger at the Davis-Besse nuclear plant in Ottawa County in 2001. The verdicts were the final ones in a seven-year saga that has had national implications for the nuclear industry as it plans for a rebirth to help meet America's rising energy needs," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

TOLEDO -- Ohio nuclear engineer convicted of lying about cracks in reactor, "Siemaszko has supporters who do not believe that he is guilty as charged. The Union of Concerned Scientists and the advocacy group Ohio Citizen Action both say Siemaszko is innocent. Ohio Citizen Action composed a letter for its followers to send to government officials that says, 'The records of Mr. Siemaszko's actions show that he was carrying out his job of cleaning the reactor head in good faith until management brought a halt to the work. By FirstEnergy's own admission, the root cause of the problem began in the mid-1990s, several years before Mr. Siemaszko was even employed at the plant,'" Environmental News Service.

Aug 23, 2008: Jury reconvenes next week in Davis-Besse trial
Engineer charged with lying

TOLEDO -- "Billie Pirner Garde, recognized by a prosecution witness and others as an attorney with a national reputation for defending nuclear whistleblowers, broke down in tears during closing arguments while maintaining her client's innocence. She said Mr. Siemaszko, a native of Poland, came to the United States during the Cold War to experience the American dream but has had that become a nightmare for him and his family. 'He came to this country as a dream from a communist country in 1978, where the government doesn't have the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,' she said. Ms. Garde said her client refused to plead to a lesser charge because of his faith in the American justice system. 'I'm not sure I would have been so brave,' she said," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Aug 22, 2008: Davis-Besse arguments to wind up today

TOLEDO -- "Closing arguments begin this morning in the criminal trial of former FirstEnergy Corp. engineer Andrew Siemaszko, a federal case being heard in Toledo with potential ramifications for nuclear whistleblowers nationwide. Jury deliberations are expected to start about noon. Mr. Siemaszko is charged with five counts of lying or withholding information from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about the operating status of the Davis-Besse nuclear plant in the fall of 2001, weeks before its historic shutdown on Feb. 16, 2002," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Aug 21, 2008: Official haunted by Besse decision
NRC administrator testifies in court case

TOLEDO -- "The senior-level Nuclear Regulatory Commission official who withheld a historic 2001 shutdown order for Davis-Besse said yesterday he keeps the Ottawa County nuclear plant's most infamous photograph in his office as a keepsake to remind him how close northern Ohio came to experiencing a radioactive disaster. 'It's a significant, emotional moment for me,' the NRC's Samuel J. Collins said of the Davis-Besse saga while discussing a photograph from the plant's 2000 outage," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Aug 12, 2008: Prosecutor cites Davis-Besse 'war' mantra
Utility portrayed in fight to avoid shutdown

Andrew Siemaszko
TOLEDO -- "'Let's win this war.' Those four words became the rallying cry among FirstEnergy Corp.'s management team seven years ago when it began fending off a Nuclear Regulatory Commission order to shut down the Davis-Besse nuclear plant three months earlier than the utility had wanted, said Thomas Ballantine of the U.S. Department of Justice's environmental crimes section. Mr. Ballantine's statement was made at the opening of the federal trial of Andrew Siemaszko, a former Davis-Besse engineer, who is charged with five counts of lying to the government about plant conditions in 2001. During his opening statement, Mr. Ballantine said that "Let's Win This War" became the mantra at the plant," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade. Published August 9.

Jul 2, 2008: Davis-Besse gets OK to power up
NRC allows plant to raise capacity

OAK HARBOR-- "The Nuclear Regulatory Commission yesterday said it has authorized Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. to generate more power at the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant. It's another sign the plant has made amends with the government and come back from the troubles that nearly crippled it for good six years ago. The authorization for a 1.6 percent increase in capacity will allow Davis-Besse to produce enough power for about 12,000 more homes," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

May 14, 2008: Davis-Besse ex-engineer appeals his conviction

OAK HARBOR -- "Former Davis-Besse engineer David Geisen has appealed his conviction on three deception charges to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, according to a notice filed by his attorneys. Geisen, of DePere, Wis., was sentenced May 1 by Judge David Katz of U.S. District Court in Toledo to a $7,500 fine, three years' probation, four months of house arrest, and 200 hours of community service for the convictions decided by a jury following a monthlong trial last October. He was acquitted of two other charges," Toledo Blade.

May 13, 2008: NRC meeting today to focus on Davis-Besse

OAK HARBOR -- "Davis-Besse's 2007 operating performance will be discussed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission today during a meeting at the nuclear plant's energy education center, 5501 North State Rt. 2. No major issues were identified. The NRC told FirstEnergy in a letter that Davis-Besse 'operated in a manner that preserved public health and safety and fully met all cornerstone objectives.' Only normal, baseline inspections are planned this year, the NRC said. The meeting, scheduled for 3 p.m., is open to the public," Toledo Blade.

Apr 8, 2008: Sentencing delayed for Davis-Besse ex-employee
Engineer Geisen convicted in cover-up

TOLEDO -- "The sentencing of former Davis-Besse engineer David Geisen has been postponed to May 1. It had been set for April 17. Geisen, of DePere, Wis., was convicted Oct. 30 in U.S. District Court in Toledo on three of five counts of deception in a case that centered around the roles he and two others were accused of having in a cover-up at FirstEnergy Corp.’s Davis-Besse nuclear plant nearly seven years ago... Prosecutors allege the cover-up kept the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from finding out that Davis-Besse’s old reactor head was about to burst and cause radioactive steam to form, endangering northern Ohio," Toledo Blade.

Mar 28, 2008: Ohio Consumers' Counsel says FirstEnergy's rate increase request should be reduced by $300 million
Proposes new investigation of service reliability

COLUMBUS -- "A proposed distribution rate increase by FirstEnergy should be cut by at least $300 million and a new investigation is needed to address the utility's service reliability, according to the Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC). The OCC proposes that the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) order a comprehensive review of FirstEnergy reliability practices. The review would include the determination of measures to increase reliability and/or penalties against FirstEnergy," press release, Ohio Consumers' Counsel.

Mar 21, 2008: Judge likely to delay sentencing engineer in reactor-leak case

TOLEDO -- "October’s split-decision verdict in the conspiracy case involving former Davis-Besse engineer David Geisen seemed to indicate the jury struggled in reaching a consensus about his role in FirstEnergy Corp.’s cover-up, U.S. District Judge David Katz said while addressing a federal prosecutor in a South Florida courtroom yesterday. 'You have to admit it would seem that by not finding Mr. Geisen guilty on two counts, the jury was showing how close its decision was and perhaps was throwing Mr. Geisen a bone,' Judge Katz told Thomas Ballantine, one of three U.S. Department of Justice prosecutors who tried the month-long case in Toledo against Geisen and his co-defendant, Rodney N. Cook, of Millington, Tenn. Geisen was a FirstEnergy supervisor who oversaw Davis-Besse’s old reactor head. Mr. Cook was a contractor the utility hired to write reports it submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Feb 23, 2008: Two former nuclear plant workers file lawsuits

Davis-Besse OAK HARBOR-- "Two former employees at the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station filed a lawsuit last week against the plant's owner FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co. for unlawful termination. Mark Whitaker, of Marblehead, and Timothy Camick, of Holland, were terminated last summer for 'alleged violations of work rules and policies,' according to a civil lawsuit filed in Ottawa County. Both men were security shift supervisors at Davis-Besse and had each filed complaints and reported matters involving 'workplace safety and other safety concerns,' court records show, Sandusky Register. Story posted on Feb. 19.

Davis-Besse's turbine generator
Feb 18, 2008: Davis-Besse generating power again

OAK HARBOR -- "FirstEnergy Corp.'s Davis-Besse nuclear plant is making electricity again and is expected to be back at full power within days, the utility said yesterday... The latest restart effort began Thursday. The plant went offline for normal refueling and maintenance Dec. 30. FirstEnergy tried putting it back into service on Feb. 1 but never synchronized to the grid because of excessive vibrations from the plant's turbine generator, which had been sent to a contractor in Chicago to be rebuilt," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Jan 28, 2008: Convicted Davis-Besse engineer is seeking new trial
Case will be heard in Florida

TOLEDO-- "Former Davis-Besse nuclear engineer David Geisen's bid to get his conviction thrown out will be argued in a South Florida courtroom. Judge David Katz, of U.S. District Court in Toledo, who winters in Florida, has scheduled a hearing for 11 a.m. March 20 in the Paul G. Rogers Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in West Palm Beach... Geisen, of DePere, Wis., was convicted Oct. 30 on three of five deception charges by a jury that deliberated more than 26 hours after hearing evidence for nearly a month. Prosecutors claimed he was part of a FirstEnergy Corp. cover-up that misled the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about Davis-Besse's dangerous operating condition in the fall of 2001," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Jan 14, 2008: Davis-Besse takes steps to improve performance

TOLEDO -- "Kudos to Davis-Besse: Just yesterday, it seemed, I was in Washington hearing Harold Denton describe the 2002 near-rupture of Davis-Besse's old reactor head as 'the second-most important event in the history of [U.S.] nuclear safety.' Harold who? He was Jimmy Carter's right-hand man from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission during the Three Mile Island saga in 1979... FirstEnergy Corp., to its credit, is trying to make us forget about both events with more than corporate spin," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade. Published January 13.

TOLEDO -- Engineer to be sentenced April 17 over Davis-Besse, Toledo Blade.

Jan 11, 2008: Agency urging rate drop for utility
Consumer group against Ohio Edison increase

COLUMBUS -- "Ohio Edison customers should be getting a decrease in distribution rates instead of a proposed increase, a consumer watchdog agency said in testimony filed Thursday... The company said it had not asked for an increase in distribution rates for Ohio Edison customers since 1990 and the other two companies since 1997. It is asking for $340 million in annual revenue increases for its three operating companies. But the Ohio consumers' counsel, the state's residential utility advocate, on Thursday filed paperwork with the PUCO saying its analysis shows the utility should decrease distribution rates for Ohio Edison and CEI and only slightly increase rates for Toledo Edison," Betty Lin-Fisher, Akron Beacon Journal.

COLUMBUS -- Watchdog agency backs increase by FirstEnergy, Toledo Blade.

COLUMBUS -- Consumers' advocate calls FirstEnergy rate increase unreasonable, Jay Miller, Crain's Cleveland Business.

Jan 8, 2008: Radioactive water seeps from pipe leak at Davis-Besse nuclear plant

graphic by Union of Concerned Scientists

OAK HARBOR -- "Radioactive coolant water seeped from a pipe in the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant's containment area Friday morning as an old weld was being reinforced with a metal overlay, FirstEnergy Corp. and federal officials said yesterday.... The Union of Concerned Scientists, a watchdog group based in Cambridge, Mass., said in a briefing issued by its Washington office yesterday that the repair at Davis-Besse could be 'relatively simple' if the lone discovered crack turns out to be the plant's only one. 'If not, the repairs and risk implications grow larger,' according to the paper, written by David Lochbaum, a former nuclear safety engineer and the group's nuclear safety project director," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

WASHINGTON, DC -- Issue Brief: Davis-Besse’s leaking decay heat removal line, Davis Lochbaum, Director, Nuclear Safety Project, Union of Concerned Scientists. 237 KB pdf.

Dec 31, 2007: Scheduled shutdown starts for Davis-Besse
Refueling, repairs set for nuke plant

OAK HARBOR -- "The Davis-Besse nuclear power plant yesterday was shut down for a scheduled refueling and to fix welds that federal regulators said were prone to leaking... In March, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission ordered Davis-Besse and 39 other nuclear plants to fix leak-prone welds in their reactor coolant systems by the end of 2007. Welds in those reactors have certain metal alloys, known as Alloy 82 and Alloy 182, that have been susceptible to stress fractures," Mike Sigov, Toledo Blade.

Dec 27, 2007: Trial is postponed in Davis-Besse case
Engineer is 3rd accused of cover-up

Andrew Siemaszko
Andrew Siemaszko
TOLEDO -- "Judge David Katz of U.S. District Court has postponed the anticipated month-long trial of former Davis-Besse engineer Andrew Siemaszko to Aug. 11, citing a scheduling conflict. Mr. Siemaszko of Spring, Texas, was to go on trial in mid-May. He is the last of three former Davis-Besse engineers to defend themselves from government accusations that they covered up problems at the Ottawa County nuclear plant months before its old reactor head nearly burst in 2002. Had that happened, radioactive steam would have formed. Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp., the plant's owner and one of the nation's largest utilities, has paid a record $33.5 million in fines stemming from civil and criminal probes," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Dec 17, 2007: Ohio, Michigan running out of ways to store their radioactive waste
But closing of S.C. landfill isn't sounding alarms yet

The radioactive waste dumping site at Barnwell, S.C., appears to be set on turning other states away by July. (Associated Press)

TOLEDO -- "Michigan and Ohio are among 36 states that will have a greater buildup of radioactive waste after July 1 if a South Carolina landfill follows through with its plans to start turning them away... Low-level radioactive waste runs the gamut from medical clothing to nuclear tubing, virtually everything with radiation other than spent fuel that's been pulled from reactor cores of nuclear plants such as FirstEnergy Corp.'s Davis-Besse in Ottawa County and DTE Energy's Fermi 2 in Monroe County," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade. Published December 16.

Dec 12, 2007: How risky is the new era of nuclear power?
Plants inspected less frequently


WASHINGTON, DC -- "In the most serious episode involving a U.S. nuclear plant since Three Mile Island, the Davis-Besse plant in Ohio was shut down from 2002 to 2004 after the NRC failed to spot what it acknowledges were early signs of trouble. An acid leak through the reactor vessel's lid left a quarter-inch-thick steel veneer, according to NRC reports. Because emergency pumps also were faulty, core-cooling water leaking through the ruptured lid could have led to a meltdown. The NRC identified the leak in fall 2001 but let the plant keep operating. An NRC Inspector General's report in 2002 found the agency's willingness to keep the plant running 'was driven in large part by a desire to lessen the financial impact on (plant operator FirstEnergy) that would result from an early shutdown,'" Paul Davidson, USA Today.

REPORT: Nuclear Power in a Warming World, Union of Concerned Scientists.

Dec 10, 2007: FirstEnergy drops insurance claim
$200M sought for reactor-head damage

TOLEDO -- "FirstEnergy Corp. has quietly dropped its $200 million insurance claim for damage to Davis-Besse's old reactor head, offering no explanation beyond a statement in which a spokesman said it was 'the best course of action for the company.' Nuclear Electric Insurance Limited, with which FirstEnergy had been in arbitration for a year, was notified Wednesday. 'The arbitration process has stopped,' Todd Schneider, FirstEnergy spokesman, said last night. The claim represented less than a third of the estimated $650 million that FirstEnergy lost between 2002 and 2004, during the time Davis-Besse was idle," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade. Published December 8.

Dec 7, 2007: Reversal is sought in Davis-Besse case
Attorneys call engineer a 'scapegoat'

David Geisen TOLEDO -- "Richard Hibey and Andrew Wise contend their client deserves a new trial if he is not acquitted by Judge David Katz, who presided over the three-week jury trial in U.S. District Court in Toledo. Their request is explained in a 37-page brief that was posted in the court's electronic filing system last week. It claims the government proved Geisen was not involved in drafting and preparing the three serial letters to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that were the basis for his conviction," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Nov 30, 2007: Perry nuke plant checked for reason for shutdown

Perry control room
The control room at the Perry Nuclear Power Plant.
NORTH PERRY -- "A nuclear power plant in northeast Ohio remained down yesterday for a second day as a team of inspectors tried to figure out what caused an automatic shutdown. Four Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspectors are assisting the agency's two resident inspectors at the Perry Nuclear Power Plant, according to NRC spokesman Viktoria Mitlyng. Perry plant workers are also involved in determining a cause. A feedwater system that pumps water to a reactor core malfunctioned and workers had problems with two of the five backup systems, Ms. Mitlyng said," Associated Press.

Nov 29, 2007: Water system problem forces shutdown of Ohio nuclear plant

NORTH PERRY -- "A water system problem caused an automatic shutdown of a nuclear power plant Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the plant said. The Perry Nuclear Power Plant, located alongside Lake Erie about 35 miles northeast of Cleveland, shut down about 7:30 a.m. when problems with the system that provides water to the reactor malfunctioned, said spokeswoman Jennifer Young. Water level inside the reactor was adequately maintained, but the plant remained off-line Wednesday evening,” Young said," Associated Press.

Nov 6, 2007: May trial planned for 3rd defendant in Davis-Besse case

TOLEDO -- "Jury selection has been scheduled for May 12 in the U.S. Department of Justice's case against Andrew Siemaszko, the last engineer of an indicted trio awaiting trial in connection with the Davis-Besse coverup. Judge David Katz of U.S. District Court in Toledo has called for the trial to begin seven days later, on May 19. Like the recently concluded trial involving engineers David Geisen and Rodney N. Cook, Mr. Siemaszko's is expected to last a month," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Nov 5, 2007: FirstEnergy pays to be heard in electric-rate debate

COLUMBUS -- "The debate over how Ohio will control your electric bill for years to come is fueled by green. The state's three largest power companies have doled out a quarter of a million dollars in campaign contributions to legislators and state political funds this year even though nobody's up for election... 'We participate in the political process, as a lot of companies do, and particularly related to issues that are important to our company and our shareholders and customers and employees,' said Ellen Raines, FirstEnergy's public-relations director. 'The energy policy in Ohio is certainly one of those issues,'" Mark Rollenhagen, Cleveland Plain Dealer. Published November 4.

Oct 31, 2007: Former engineer convicted; plant contractor acquitted in Davis-Besse cover-up trial

Geisen & Cook
Geisen, left, and Cook.
TOLEDO -- "The jury deliberated more than 26 hours, starting last Wednesday night, before the verdicts were read about 2 p.m. yesterday. Judge David Katz, who presided over the trial, allowed Geisen to remain free on earlier conditions set in his bond. The jury met with prosecutors and defense attorneys for more than an hour after the verdict. Mr. Cook’s chief attorney, John Conroy, was the only one who shed any light on the discussion, explaining that jurors were confounded. 'They really did not accept the notion that the only [potentially] guilty people were the ones on trial,' Mr. Conroy said. They were quite clear about that,'" Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Oct 30, 2007: Judge urges jury to break deadlock in Davis-Besse nuclear trial

Judge David Katz
TOLEDO -- "A federal jury in Toledo trying to decide if two former Davis-Besse engineers lied about the Ottawa County nuclear plant's dangerous operating status in 2001 yesterday was encouraged by the presiding judge to break its apparent stalemate. But even with prodding by U.S. District Judge David Katz, the jury went a third day without reaching a verdict. It's to resume deliberations today. David Geisen of DePere, Wis., and Rodney N. Cook of Millington, Tenn., are facing criminal charges for making false statements to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

TOLEDO -- Davis-Besse watchdogs say NRC auditor needs funding, "A national watchdog group has cited Davis-Besse as an example of why the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's internal auditor needs better funding - especially if there is to be a nuclear renaissance," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Oct 27, 2007: Davis-Besse jurors end 2nd day without verdict

TOLEDO -- "A second day of deliberations produced no verdict in the Davis-Besse criminal trial in U.S. District Court in Toledo, a case viewed by some as having potential ramifications for the nuclear industry’s work force. The jury is to reconvene Monday. It is weighing evidence of what former engineers David Geisen and Rodney N. Cook knew about the Ottawa County nuclear plant’s old reactor head in the fall of 2001. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission suspected something was wrong at the time, but FirstEnergy Corp. talked the agency out of serving the nation’s first mandatory shutdown order since 1987," Toledo Blade.

Oct 26, 2007: Electric plan to lock in northern Ohio's higher rates
Cost you're paying for power now could be 'floor' for future

COLUMBUS -- "A new plan to set future electric rates in the state, keeping northern Ohio’s high rates, was unveiled yesterday in the Ohio Senate. The plan, supported by Democratic Gov. Ted Stickland and Ohio Senate Republicans, would lock in the rates customers are paying for the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant and other utility investments in power-generating stations that otherwise would expire next year," Jim Provance, Toledo Blade.

TOLEDO -- Davis-Besse criminal jury to deliberate again today, Toledo Blade.

Oct 25, 2007: Davis-Besse engineers' fate rests with jury
Trial summaries take hours

TOLEDO -- "Defense attorneys said the government's conspiracy theory is implausible. Neither defendant had anything to gain from keeping Davis-Besse online, they said. Richard Hibey, one of Mr. Geisen's attorneys, accused the government of "importing all of this hindsight" and trying to present it as fact. The defendants followed procedures that were in effect at the time and their actions "should not be perverted into a lie, a cover-up, a covert act," he said. 'Why would he abandon his responsibility to science, his family, his employer, and the people [of Ohio] simply to keep Davis-Besse [online] another 45 days?' Mr. Hibey asked," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Oct 24, 2007: Engineer says utility covered up problems
Davis-Besse criminal trial drawing to close

TOLEDO -- " In yesterday's concluding testimony, a FirstEnergy supervisor testified that he immediately saw evidence of a cover-up. Randy Rossomme, who now works in the utility's headquarters, was a quality-assurance supervisor at FirstEnergy's twin-reactor Beaver Valley nuclear complex in western Pennsylvania when the damage to Davis-Besse's reactor head was discovered in March, 2002. He said he was taken aback by documents he examined weeks later after the utility's nuclear subsidiary named him to an internal 'root cause' inspection team at Davis-Besse. 'My first gut response was they lied - they, being Davis-Besse,' Mr. Rossomme told the jury," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Oct 23, 2007: Engineer won't testify against co-defendants

TOLEDO -- "The government won't attempt to make former Davis-Besse engineer Andrew Siemaszko testify against his co-defendants during their trial in federal court in Toledo... Mr. Siemaszko was in charge of cleaning and inspecting Davis-Besse's old reactor head during the Ottawa County nuclear plant's 2000 refueling outage, the last one before the dangerous cavity at the heart of the case was found in early 2002," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Oct 20, 2007: Davis-Besse Trial
Manager regrets role in 2002 event

david geisen TOLEDO -- "Mr. Geisen said his FirstEnergy colleagues thrust him into making a presentation before the NRC on short notice on Nov. 8, 2001. He wasn't prepared. He showed video footage of reactor-head inspections from 1996 and 1998 that he hadn't previewed. He didn't know what he was looking at, and the quality of the footage was so bad the NRC didn't bother looking at the tape from 2000 that Mr. Siemaszko had produced, he said. 'I was extremely frustrated because I couldn't answer the questions they were asking. I felt stupid. I was mad at my teammates because I felt they sent me into something unprepared,' Mr. Geisen said. FirstEnergy sent Mr. Siemaszko out to the NRC's headquarters about five weeks later, but only after an internal debate because Mr. Siemaszko's eastern European accent can be hard to understand, Mr. Geisen said," Tom Henry Toledo Blade.

Oct 13, 2007: Prosecution rests in trial of 2 Davis-Besse workers

TOLEDO -- "The government yesterday rested its case against two former Davis-Besse workers accused of covering up information about the Ottawa County nuclear plant's dangerous condition in the fall of 2001, when its old reactor head was on the verge of bursting and allowing radioactive steam to form. David Geisen of Wisconsin and Rodney N. Cook of Tennessee are both charged with lying to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as is Andrew Siemaszko of Texas. All three face up to five years in prison and separate $250,000 fines if convicted," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Oct 12, 2007: Director assisted feds during Davis-Besse probe
Engineer was targeted

Steven Moffitt
TOLEDO -- "A former Davis-Besse engineering director yesterday revealed he was an early target of the government’s investigation of trouble at the Ottawa County nuclear plant in the fall of 2001 — not the two utility engineers and outside contractor below him who were indicted... Mr. Moffitt said he met with federal prosecutors at least twice in 2005 and agreed to cooperate even though they didn’t give him full immunity. He said they agreed not to use information he provided against him, but wouldn’t rule out him being indicted. He wasn’t. David Geisen, Rodney N. Cook, and Andrew Siemaszko were," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Oct 11, 2007: Prosecutor may force defendant to testify in Davis-Besse trial

TOLEDO -- "The government's case against three former Davis-Besse engineers took a bizarre twist at the end of yesterday's session in U.S. District Court when an angry defense attorney said his client, who is not on trial yet, may be forced to testify against the other two defendants. Chuck Boss of Maumee told Judge David Katz he fears his client, Andrew Siemaszko, now of Texas, will incriminate himself or be duped into committing perjury by Justice Department prosecutors if they are allowed to subpoena him as a witness in the trial of a former co-worker, David Geisen, now of Wisconsin, and Tennessee contractor Rodney N. Cook," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Oct 10, 2007: Davis-Besse witness set to testify against trio
Engineer to discuss coverup accusation

TOLEDO -- "One of the key witnesses in the U.S. Department of Justice's case against three former Davis-Besse engineers is expected to testify today about the government's theory that he and the trio were part of a coverup that jeopardized northern Ohio's safety in the fall of 2001. Prasoon Goyal, 61, of Toledo, who took the stand late yesterday, is a former senior design engineer who avoided prosecution by agreeing to cooperate with the Justice Department in its case against the other three," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Oct 8, 2007: Problems add up for Davis-Besse

TOLEDO -- "A quick Davis-Besse recap: Six months before the plant's historic shutdown on Feb. 16, 2002 - long before news broke about the horrible state of its old reactor head - FirstEnergy Corp. put in an order for a new head, a $200 million part. That had never been done before in U.S. nuclear history. The utility said it was tired of worrying about cracked reactor-head nozzles, the original focus. It said it was just as blown away, bad pun intended, as everyone about the much more serious issue of acid burning through all but a fraction of the lid and nearly allowing radioactive steam to form," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Oct 5, 2007: Seeing justice served

kirk cartoon

TOLEDO -- "Northwest Ohio did more than dodge a bullet when the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant was shut down in 2002, it avoided a potential nuclear disaster. And the best thing that could come out of the criminal trials of three former Davis-Besse workers would be a clearer picture of whether their bosses should have been sitting with them at the defense table. Former FirstEnergy employee David Geisen and contractor Rodney Cook are on trial in U.S. District Court in Toledo. They are accused of lying to the government in documents used by Toledo Edison's parent firm to argue against the Nuclear Regulatory Commission pulling the plug on the Ottawa County plant on Dec. 31, 2001, to fix a corroded reactor head," editorial, Toledo Blade.

Oct 4, 2007: Residue on reactor should have been warning, court told

TOLEDO -- "Jurors spent hours yesterday in U.S. District Court in Toledo reviewing footage of boric acid crystals that encrusted Davis-Besse's old reactor head as far back as 1996. Government prosecutors are using the evidence to bolster their claim that FirstEnergy Corp. engineers lied in maintenance documents the utility submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the fall of 2001. The trial, which began Monday, is the first of two in which former engineers face up to five years in prison and separate $250,000 fines if convicted of lying to the government," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Oct 3, 2007: Court told of failed bid to shut Davis-Besse
NRC staffer doubted FirstEnergy's claims

TOLEDO -- "Attorneys yesterday spent nearly six hours grilling a Nuclear Regulatory Commission staffer who fought to get Davis-Besse shut down in the fall of 2001 as a safeguard for northern Ohio, only to have his senior management override the recommendation he and his colleagues made so that FirstEnergy Corp. would not take a financial hit. Allen Hiser, now chief of the NRC's steam generator, tube integrity, and chemical engineering branch, said he wasn't buying FirstEnergy's assertion that Davis-Besse's old reactor head was properly cleaned and inspected during the plant's previous refueling outage in 2000," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Oct 2, 2007: Davis-Besse ex-workers called liars as trial begins

TOLEDO -- "Opening arguments began yesterday in the first of two criminal trials involving former Davis-Besse workers with federal prosecutors accusing defendants David Geisen and Rodney N. Cook of being liars who were out to 'trick, scheme, or otherwise mislead' the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about the degree to which acid leaked from the plant’s nuclear reactor in the fall of 2001... Defense attorneys countered by saying their defendants are being used as scapegoats. 'Ladies and gentlemen, David Geisen is here today because the NRC was embarrassed by what happened at Davis-Besse,' said one of Mr. Geisen’s attorneys, Andrew Wise. 'This was not an investigation to figure out what happened, but who we can blame,'" Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Oct 2, 2007: High Energy lobbying targets electric bill legislation

CLEVELAND -- "They showed up to fight over your electric bill. Nearly 100 of them, all with connections to Ohio lawmakers, some wielding Blackberrys, talking points, press releases and even an opinion poll. So many came that the meeting - the first hearing on Gov. Ted Strickland's energy plan - was delayed so it could be moved to a larger room in the Statehouse. Utility companies, manufacturers, unions, farmers and environmentalists hastened their representatives to Wednesday's meeting because Strickland's energy plan, introduced in the Ohio Senate, has unprecedented ramifications for Ohio consumers, the economy and the environment," Mark Naymik, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Oct 1, 2007: First of two trials in Davis-Besse case set to begin today in Toledo
Former workers charged with lying about safety issues

David Geisen, Rodney Cook and Andrew Siemaszko face up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines if convicted.
TOLEDO -- "Six years later, it remains an unsettling question: How much was covered up about the Davis-Besse nuclear plant in the fall of 2001? Hadn't the nuclear industry learned its lesson from the panic that ensued in March, 1979, when half of the Three Mile Island Unit 2 reactor core melted near Harrisburg, Pa.? And where was the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the government agency that's supposed to protect the public? ...Sandy Buchanan, Ohio Citizen Action executive director, said FirstEnergy top executives should be held accountable for the cover-up," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Sep 20, 2007: Utility increases concern firms
FirstEnergy assures businesses large jumps seem unlikely in '09

AKRON -- "How important are electric rates to a business? It would take a day to count the ways. More than 200 people, from business owners and executives to economists and engineers, attended the second Northern Ohio Energy Management Conference at the John S. Knight Convention Center in Akron on Wednesday... But the common thread throughout the event was the question of what will happen to electric rates on Jan. 1, 2009. That's when rate plans for three of Ohio's four investor-owned utilities including Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. are set to expire," Paula Schleis, Akron Beacon Journal.

Aug 30, 2007: FirstEnergy deferred-payment plan rejected
Ohio's top court strikes down 2009-34 billing for current fuel, repair costs

lightbulb COLUMBUS -- "The Ohio Supreme Court yesterday struck down FirstEnergy Corp.'s plan to defer up to $150 million a year in increased fuel and other costs for three years and then recoup those costs from customers over 25 years, beginning in 2009. In a 6-1 decision, the court said it was illegal under Ohio's 1999 electric deregulation law for the Akron parent company of Toledo Edison to put off billing for higher costs for fuel, tree-trimming, and storm damage associated with generating electricity from 2006 through 2008 and then later raise the bills for customers on the distribution from 2009 through 2034 to make up for it,'" Jim Provance, Toledo Blade.

Aug 28, 2007: No rush on re-regulation

TOLEDO -- "Governor Ted Strickland has set a high bar for what should be his next major legislative initiative: re-regulating the electric business in Ohio. We use the term 're-regulating' because it is glaringly obvious that the state’s nearly decade-long experiment with electric deregulation has been a colossal failure and must be corrected," editorial, Toledo Blade.

Aug 26, 2007: Debate about to begin on electric deregulation

COLUMBUS -- "Mr. Strickland is expected to begin the debate any day now as Ohio faces a deadline of Jan. 1, 2009, the date that, absent any legislative action, would send Ohio consumers into an electricity market where competition hasn't developed. Rather than the promised bargains, consumers in other states like Maryland and Illinois who got to the market early found sticker shock. 'If we do nothing, I think we'll have a chaotic, intolerable set of circumstances that will lead to a lack of predictability, most likely an exploding cost to consumers and industrial users of electricity,' Mr. Strickland said. 'It will be a very volatile situation that introduces unaccept-able uncertainty into our state's economy,'" Jim Provance, Toledo Blade.

Aug 20, 2007: Stakes high in race to re-regulate utilities

utlity COLUMBUS -- "With Gov. Ted Strickland about to release a new energy plan, a sudden and strong consensus has formed in the state: Relaxing government controls on electric companies was a bad idea... At most, supporters of deregulation described it as one factor among many that led to events like the Northeast blackout or the rolling California brownouts. They felt it premature, at least publicly, to say the trend toward relaxed regulation that swept the country in the 1990s was the root cause of the turmoil. But with interim rate stabilization plans set to expire in Ohio at the end of 2008, interest groups on all sides appear to have agreed that deregulation was a failure and should be replaced. Contemporary thinking is that competition and low rates never materialized, and won't without government helping control rates, manage demand and urge efficiency," Julie Carr Smyth, Associated Press.

Aug 19, 2007: AEP bill higher, but not so bad?

COLUMBUS -- "For Schriber, there's no question. Rate-stabilization plans saved Ohioans money, especially compared with other states in similar situations, he said... But Janine Migden-Ostrander, the Ohio consumers' counsel, isn't willing to say the rate plans saved Ohioans money. The downside to the rate-stabilization plans was that utilities didn't have to open their books in order to levy surcharges, she said. 'We don't have a chance to look at things in the depth that we think is appropriate," she said. "The ends do not justify the means when the process is not appropriate,'" Paul Wilson, Columbus Dispatch.

Aug 16, 2007: NRC lets utility off lightly in data case
FirstEnergy told to alter training

dAVIS-bESSE OAK HARBOR -- The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has effectively let FirstEnergy Corp. off with a warning for waiting three months before producing contradictory information the utility had gathered about the near-rupture of Davis-Besse’s reactor head in 2002. The utility could have lost its operating licenses for Davis-Besse, Perry nuclear plant east of Cleveland, and its twin-reactor nuclear complex in western Pennsylvania over the ordeal, because the regulatory agency saw potential for national safety implications in suppressed data that two FirstEnergy consultants had compiled," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

OAK HARBOR -- FirstEnergy ordered to give workers added training, John Funk, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Aug 9, 2007: Feds applaud Davis-Besse for '06 operations

OAK HARBOR -- "Davis-Besse last night got kudos for its 2006 operating performance. But federal regulators kept mum about the status of possible sanctions against FirstEnergy Corp. for seeking a $200 million insurance payment for the plant's old reactor head that nearly blew apart in 2002. The NRC is expected to spend at least two more weeks reviewing FirstEnergy's rationale for the insurance claim, Viktoria Mitlyng, an agency spokesman, said," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Nuclear Safety Reports Called Into Question

slow report NEW YORK -- "How many mishaps have occurred over the years -- and is the rate getting better or worse? It's hard to know. That's because every day, the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency deletes from its Web site any rated incident that's more than six months old. The agency says it doesn't want to penalize more-forthcoming countries by making it look like they have poor safety records... The most serious nuclear plant incident in the U.S. in recent years occurred at the Davis-Besse plant in Oak Harbor, Ohio, in 2002. There, a pineapple-size cavity, caused by extensive corrosion, was found in the lid of the reactor pressure vessel, which houses the fuel core," Steve Stecklow, Wall Street Journal.

Jun 28, 2007: FirstEnergy gets mild nuke rebuke
NRC fails to address issuing different stories on reactor hole

"I'm disappointed in [FirstEnergy's] actions," said NRC Deputy Executive Director William Kane.
ROCKVILLE, MD -- "Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials mildly rebuked FirstEnergy Corp. officials on Wednesday for failing to immediately give them a consultant's report that concluded that a dangerous corrosion problem at the Davis-Besse nuclear plant developed over months instead of years. The regulatory panel spent three hours grilling top FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co. officials. Its questioning didn't address whether it was proper for the Akron-based utility to provide the NRC with one account of problems at the Davis-Besse plant while providing a different version to its insurance company in an effort to collect $200 million," Sabrina Eaton, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

ROCKVILLE, MD -- NRC 'disappointed' in Davis-Besse insurance claim, Utility says it's committed to safety, Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Jun 18, 2007: FirstEnergy's third story of its role in Davis-Besse reactor damage spins spin

TOLEDO -- "Most irritating is FirstEnergy's claim that it has never really altered its position because it always accepted responsibility for the hole. Initially FirstEnergy accepted blame for failing to do inspections that would have found the hole. But for the insurance case, FirstEnergy seemed to claim that it was blameless, even if it was responsible. We don't buy that hair-splitting. The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission should rake FirstEnergy over the coals for its flip-flop-flip. Yanking the company's nuclear operating license might not be so bad. Who knows what FirstEnergy will do or say anymore on any given day about the operation of its nuclear reactors?," editorial, Lorain Morning Journal .

Jun 15, 2007: Utility disavows nuclear plant report

TOLEDO -- "Penitent and humbled, FirstEnergy Corp. says its own consultants were wrong to argue the utility couldn't have prevented a rust hole that crippled the Davis-Besse nuclear reactor five years ago. In a 63-page sworn document that amounts to an extended apology, the Akron-based utility told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission this week that it could not endorse many of the arguments its paid consultants made last December in reports meant to help FirstEnergy collect a $200 million insurance claim for the extensive Davis-Besse damage," John Funk and John Mangels, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

TOLEDO -- FirstEnergy accepts blame for Davis-Besse oversight, Utility admits rust was preventable, Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Jun 8, 2007: Claim may retrigger criminal probe
FirstEnergy's insurance case contradicts NRC on Davis-Besse

TOLEDO -- "The argument FirstEnergy Corp. is making to its insurer -- that the utility did nothing to intentionally cause corrosion damage at its Davis-Besse nuclear plant -- contradicts the official findings of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's investigation into the rust fiasco. The disparity between the NRC's conclusions about FirstEnergy's culpability at Davis-Besse and the version FirstEnergy's consultant is telling in an insurance feud already has landed the utility in hot water with nuclear regulators," John Mangels, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

May 28, 2007: The Davis-Besse dance

danceTOLEDO -- "FirstEnergy Corp. may not be trying to rewrite the history of the 2002 near-catastrophe at the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant, but a whole lot of spinning is going on. FirstEnergy, parent of Toledo Edison, paid $33.5 million in federal fines after it neglected to take care of corrosion from leaking acid, which had eaten most of the way through Davis-Besse's reactor lid over a period of years... Now, seeking to recoup $200 million from its insurer, the utility has drummed up consultants' reports claiming that the bulk of the corrosion occurred in a matter of a few weeks and was pretty much unavoidable," Editorial, Toledo Blade.

May 23, 2007: Beaver power plant emission violations at heart of lawsuit

SHIPPINGPORT, PA -- "Susan Bird said she blames air pollution from the nearby Bruce Mansfield Power Plant in Shippingport, Beaver County, for her two younger sons' neurological disorders, including one boy's autism. Ralph Hysong, who also lives one mile from the plant, said he feels good only when he travels outside Beaver County. 'We no longer grow a garden or have fruit trees, especially after last year's major upset that spewed grimy ash for several miles,' he said," David Templeton, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

SHIPPINGPORT, PA -- Environmentalists will sue if FirstEnergy doesn't clean up, Bob Bauder, Beaver County Times Allegheny Times.

May 21, 2007: 'All of the above' won't cut it

Acid eroded a reactor head at the Davis-Besse plant so much that the plant was shut down in 2002.
TOLEDO -- "FirstEnergy has a lot of explaining to do. And it has too many explanations. The company apparently is trying to peddle a new story to its insurance company about the pineapple-size rust hole found in the steel lid of the reactor at the Davis-Besse nuclear plant. In this version, the cavity occurred in four months - so swiftly that poor FirstEnergy should be let off the hook. If the insurance company swallows this tale, the utility could get $200 million to compensate for its losses. But selling such a tall tale should be a tall order. Let's unfurl the long public record," editorial, Cleveland Plain Dealer .

May 19, 2007: Regulators skeptical of Davis-Besse report
Data contradict research, Justice Dept. says

Anthony Alexander
Anthony Alexander, FirstEnergy's chief operating officer and top official.
TOLEDO -- "A 661-page report that FirstEnergy submitted to its insurance company in hopes of recouping $200 million for the near-rupture of Davis-Besse's old reactor head in 2002 is being viewed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's enforcement office "with skepticism," according to a document filed in federal court late yesterday by the U.S. Department of Justice... The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it is contemplating a range of enforcement actions that could include revoking the operating licenses that FirstEnergy holds for its Davis-Besse plant east of Toledo, its Perry nuclear plant east of Cleveland, and its twin-reactor Beaver Valley complex west of Pittsburgh," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

TOLEDO -- FirstEnergy is focused on safety, Letter to the Editor, FirstEnergy CEO Anthony Alexander, Toledo Blade.

May 17, 2007: Reports assert Davis-Besse reactor deteriorated swiftly
FirstEnergy calls '02 incident a fluke, seeks to collect $200M from insurer

TOLEDO -- "The future of FirstEnergy Corp.'s nuclear operating company could depend on how firmly the utility continues to stand behind a pair of reports that suggests the near-rupture of Davis-Besse's old reactor head in 2002 was a fluke... It concluded most of Davis-Besse's old head deteriorated from leaky reactor acid in the final three weeks before the plant's historic two-year outage began on Feb. 16, 2002, in contrast to government research - which FirstEnergy had never disputed - that the problem took years to unfold," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

May 16, 2007: Utility's claim has NRC fuming
FirstEnergy risks license over answers to reversal on Davis-Besse

Davis-Besse reactor vessel head insulation showing the damage caused by boric acid. (NRC photo)
WASHINGTON -- "Federal regulators are demanding to know why FirstEnergy Corp. no longer considers itself to blame for a rust hole that nearly caused a catastrophic accident at the Davis-Besse nuclear reactor five years ago... If the NRC isn't satisfied with FirstEnergy's answers, the punishment could be as severe as revoking the utility's licenses to operate Davis-Besse and its two other nuclear plants -- the Perry reactor near Painesville and the Beaver Valley facility in western Pennsylvania. Other options include suspending or restricting those licenses," John Mangels, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

LORAIN -- Nuclear nightmare story at Davis-Besse takes a new twist, hard to buy, editorial, The Morning Journal.

May 15, 2007: Reactor owner in hot water with NRC
FirstEnergy actions displease regulators

WASHINGTON -- "FirstEnergy Corp. could face sanctions by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for attempting to process a $200 million insurance claim with a pair of reports that contradicts what the company previously said regarding the near-rupture of Davis-Besse's old reactor head in 2002... The NRC, consequently, has issued a 'Demand for Information,' which compels FirstEnergy to answer key questions under oath. It faces more legal action if it is caught misleading the government or providing incomplete information," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

WASHINGTON -- NRC demands Davis-Besse explanation, Patrick O'Donnell, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

WASHINGTON -- NRC demands information from FirstEnergy regarding Davis-Besse nuclear power plant, Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

May 13, 2007: New Davis-Besse report making waves
Some raise questions as utility shifts stand on reactor lid rust hole

time graphCLEVELAND -- "At the time, the utility paid $33.5 million in criminal and civil fines to acknowledge its culpability for failing to stop the corrosion and for misleading government regulators that the deteriorating lid on the Toledo-area reactor was OK. Now, FirstEnergy is arguing it wasn't negligent at Davis-Besse. The utility bases its drastic change of heart on a new analysis it paid for in its attempt to win a $200 million insurance dispute. FirstEnergy's retooled version of events is that corrosion ate through the steel lid so quickly -- in four months, not the previously accepted four years -- that normal biennial inspections couldn't have caught it," John Mangels and John Funk, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

May 5, 2007: NRC fails to address new report on reactor

NRC logo
TOLEDO -- "The Nuclear Regulatory Commission apparently is not going to give U.S. District Court Judge David Katz a straight answer about a controversial 661-page report prepared by two FirstEnergy Corp. consultants. The report could be used to absolve the utility of liability for the near-rupture of Davis-Besse's old reactor head in 2002 and help the company process a $200 million insurance claim. The report, prepared by Exponent Failure Analysis Association of Menlo, Calif., and Altran Solutions Corp. of Boston, has huge legal implications for the government's case against two former Davis-Besse workers and a former contractor who have been indicted on charges of misleading the NRC," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

TOLEDO -- NRC says new checks enough to catch leaks, John Mangels and John Funk, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

May 4, 2007: Davis-Besse may operate during NRC review

TOLEDO -- "The Nuclear Regulatory Commission yesterday affirmed that Davis-Besse and 68 other nuclear plants will be allowed to continue normal operations while the government agency assesses a controversial 661-page report that FirstEnergy Corp. is using in hopes of processing a $200 million insurance claim. The document purports that most of the damage to Davis-Besse's old reactor head was the result of accelerated corrosion during the last three weeks before the plant was shut down for two years on Feb. 16, 2002, contrary to what the NRC itself has said. Agency officials previously attributed the plant's dangerous condition to a pattern of utility negligence over years," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

May 2, 2007: NRC silence over reactor report is questioned
Paper on Davis-Besse not backed or rejected

TOLEDO -- "A federal judge. A congressman. And now one of the nuclear industry's most notorious watchdog groups. All three want to know this: Why has the Nuclear Regulatory Commission failed to either dismiss or endorse a controversial 661-page report about the near-rupture of Davis-Besse's old reactor head in 2002? The document, prepared by FirstEnergy Corp. consultants, could absolve the utility of negligence accusations so it can proceed with a $200 million insurance claim," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

May 1, 2007: Davis-Besse rust report irks watchdog

CLEVELAND -- "If the rust hole that took the Davis-Besse nuclear reactor to the brink of disaster five years ago grew as fast as the utility's consultants now believe, the nation's nuclear fleet could be just as vulnerable, a watchdog group said Monday. But if the new 700-page engineering consultants' corrosion report commissioned by plant owner FirstEnergy Corp. is just a bid to collect on insurance from the rust damage, then the Akron utility should lose its nuclear operating license, the Union of Concerned Scientists said," John Funk and John Mangels, Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Apr 21, 2007: Insurance claim to delay trial for 3 ex-Davis-Besse workers

defendants TOLEDO -- " FirstEnergy Corp.'s attempt to recoup $200 million from an insurance policy has caused a four-month delay in the criminal prosecution of three workers formerly associated with the utility's Davis-Besse nuclear plant in Ottawa County. U.S. District Court Judge David Katz said at a hearing yesterday that he had no choice but to postpone the trial of Andrew Siemaszko to Sept. 10 and that of his two co-defendants, David Geisen and Rodney N. Cook, to Oct. 9 because of assertions made in a 661-page report by two FirstEnergy consultants," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Apr 6, 2007: Nuclear disaster was close at hand
Corrosion of lid at Davis-Besse was quick, study says

Corrosion in the reactor lid at Davis-Besse.
CLEVELAND -- "The Davis-Besse nuclear reactor near Toledo probably was closer than anyone thought to catastrophic failure when workers found extensive corrosion of the reactor's lid in February 2002, according to a new study. A report commissioned by plant owner FirstEnergy Corp. for a pending insurance claim concludes that a reactor coolant leak ate through the 6-inch steel lid - leaving a thin stainless-steel liner - in only a few weeks in the fall of 2001, even as the Akron-based utility fought regulators' calls for a shutdown to inspect for leaks," John Funk, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

CLEVELAND -- Kucinich: Local power plant closer to major release of radiation than imagined, Paul Thomas, WKYC.

TOLEDO -- Report challenges reactor leak findings, Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

WASHINGTON, DC -- Nuclear plant owner seeks payment for lost production, Matthew Wald, New York Times.

Mar 22, 2007: 3 Davis-Besse ex-staffers get a deadline to bargain pleas

TOLEDO -- "Three former Davis-Besse workers blamed by federal prosecutors for one of the nuclear industry's biggest coverups have until April 9 to negotiate plea deals... The trio - former FirstEnergy Corp. engineers Andrew Siemaszko and David Geisen, plus outside contractor Rodney N. Cook - are accused of lying to the government about the plant's dangerous condition in the fall of 2001. They face five years in prison and $250,000 in fines if convicted," Toledo Blade.

Mar 13, 2007: Besse among plants obliged to fix welds
Federal regulator names 40 facilities

Davis-Besse TOLEDO -- "Forty of America's 103 nuclear plants, including FirstEnergy Corp.'s Davis-Besse station in Ottawa County, will be required by the end of 2007 to fix welds in their reactor coolant systems that are prone to leaking, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said yesterday. Welds in those reactors have certain metal alloy materials, known as Alloy 82 and Alloy 182, that have been susceptible to stress fractures," Toledo Blade.

Mar 12, 2007: Judge orders separate trials in Davis-Besse case

TOLEDO -- "A federal judge in Toledo yesterday ordered two trials in the criminal case against a pair of former Davis-Besse engineers and an outside contractor indicted in 2006 on charges of lying to the government about the plant’s dangerous condition in the fall of 2001. U.S. District Court Judge David Katz agreed with the defendants that they can’t get a fair trial if all three are tried at once. Defendant Andrew Siemaszko has made statements against the other two defendants, David Geisen and Rodney N. Cook, and vice versa," Toledo Blade. Article originally published March 10, 2007.

TOLEDO -- FirstEnergy recommits to annual assessments, Toledo Blade. Article originally published March 10, 2007.

Mar 8, 2007: Davis-Besse seeks looser oversight

TOLEDO -- "The Nuclear Regulatory Commission - a federal agency long accused of being too soft on the nuclear industry - is deliberating whether to back down from the No. 1 stipulation it gave FirstEnergy Corp. to resume operation of its Davis-Besse nuclear plant in March, 2004: Bringing in outside evaluators once a year... 'It's unbelievable the company would make that request, and it's just as unbelievable the NRC would even consider it,' said David Lochbaum, nuclear safety engineer for the Union of Concerned Scientists and a former nuclear industry employee," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Jan 25, 2007: Improvements at Davis-Besse given spotlight at NRC meeting

AKRON -- "For once, Davis-Besse isn't FirstEnergy Corp.'s headache. Yesterday the beleaguered Ottawa County nuclear plant shone as the star of FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co. during a 3 1/2-hour meeting of utility executives and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. NRC officials heard how outside evaluators, many hired with the government agency's approval, have documented improvements in both Davis-Besse's overall worker morale as well as the performance of its engineers and operators," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Jan 12, 2007: Besse defendants to argue for 2 trials
Magistrate cites complex evidence

defendentsWASHINGTON, D.C. -- "Mr. Siemaszko, Mr. Geisen, and Mr. Cook are accused of jeopardizing northern Ohio's safety by lying about Davis-Besse's old reactor head when the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was debating whether the plant was too dangerous to keep operating in the fall of 2001... The trio is named in a criminal indictment . The government fined FirstEnergy Corp. $28 million - the largest fine in U.S. nuclear history - for its corporate role in covering up evidence," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Jan 2, 2007: Feds alter timetable for trial in reactor case
Davis-Besse trio charged with lying

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- "Mr. Siemaszko has been held up as a whistle-blower by the Union of Concerned Scientists and Ohio Citizen Action. Both groups maintain that he is being punished for trying to shed light on Davis-Besse's problems. In September, Mr. Siemaszko sued FirstEnergy for wrongful termination and breach of contract in Ottawa County Commons Pleas Court. That case also is pending," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Older news

2005: Jan-May, Jun-Dec
2004: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr-May, Jun-Aug, Sep-Dec
2003: Jan-Feb, Mar-Apr, May-Jun, Jul-Aug, Sep-Oct, Nov-Dec
2002: Jan-Jun, Jul-Aug, Sep-Oct, Nov-Dec