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Davis-Besse plant loses third overseer

08/07/02

John Mangels and John Funk
Plain Dealer Reporters

Oak Harbor, Ohio

- The FirstEnergy executive in charge of the formidable effort to restart the crippled Davis-Besse nuclear power plant has been replaced.

Howard Bergendahl, who had been vice president in charge of Davis-Besse since February, "is exploring options within and outside the company," spokesman Todd Schneider said yesterday. Bergendahl had been the plant's manager the previous two years.

Bergendahl's duties will be taken over by Lew Myers, the FirstEnergy nuclear division's chief operating officer. Myers has been at Davis-Besse since May.

Schneider would not say why Bergendahl left his job or whether his situation is related to the corrosion problems that have idled the reactor near Toledo for nearly half a year and will cost FirstEnergy at least $200 million. But Bergendahl is the third top executive displaced after holding a key oversight position at the plant while the corrosion occurred or was discovered.

John Wood, formerly vice president of the FirstEnergy nuclear division's engineering services group, left the company May 24.

He had helped lead the effort to patch the large rust hole in Davis-Besse's reactor lid, a strategy the company abandoned under pressure from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in favor of buying a new lid.

Guy Campbell, had been vice president for Davis-Besse from January 1999 to February 2002, a time during which workers found numerous clues that something inside the reactor building was heavily rusting but failed to trace its source.

After a brief stint as vice president at FirstEnergy's Perry nuclear plant this spring, Campbell was transferred to the Three Mile Island nuclear plant near Harrisburg, Pa.

Bergendahl had been responsible for coordinating the complicated and heavily scrutinized inspection and repair work at the plant. The scores of projects must be completed to the NRC's satisfaction before the reactor can be restarted.

Throughout the summer, Bergendahl was part of a FirstEnergy management team that dealt directly with a special NRC panel overseeing Davis-Besse. Congress and the NRC are conducting six investigations concerning the reactor lid's corrosion.

Bergendahl's departure will not affect FirstEnergy's plan to complete repairs by year's end, Schneider said.

For complete coverage of Davis-Besse go to www.cleveland.com/davisbesse/.

To reach these Plain Dealer reporters:

jmangels@plaind.com, 216-999-4842

jfunk@plaind.com, 216-999-4138


2002 The Plain Dealer. Used with permission.
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