CLEVELAND - The Nuclear Regulatory
Commission is investigating whether the owner of the Davis-Besse
nuclear plant altered records and withheld information about its
damaged reactor head, The Plain Dealer reported Friday.
The NRC subpoenaed 30 boxes containing 44,000 documents from
FirstEnergy Corp.'s nuclear division and has questioned plant
personnel, company spokesman Todd Schneider told the newspaper.
"We are fully cooperating with that effort," he said.
The plant has been shut down since February, when inspectors
discovered that boric acid had nearly eaten through the reactor
head's steel cap. It was the most extensive corrosion found on a
U.S. nuclear reactor and led to a nationwide review of all 69
A coalition of 14 environmental and nuclear watchdog groups is
trying to convince the NRC of the need for an independent review of
repairs and reforms at the plant 25 miles east of Toledo.
Coalition spokesman David Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer with the
Union of Concerned Scientists, said an NRC source told him the
agency is investigating material that FirstEnergy used in persuading
the NRC to postpone a special safety inspection at the plant last
The NRC suspected that Davis-Besse's reactor lid had cracks and
should be immediately shut down for inspection, but ultimately
accepted FirstEnergy's arguments, The Plain Dealer reported.
When workers conducted the safety check in March, they found a
large rust hole all the way through the 6-inch-thick lid.
The watchdog groups claim the NRC is investigating:
_Whether date stamps on company videotapes of reactor lid
inspections were altered so that older tapes - filmed when the lid
was less obscured by boric acid residue - could be substituted for
tapes from more recent inspections.
_Whether paperwork documenting the lid's condition was changed to
reflect what the tapes supposedly showed.
_Whether the company withheld a photograph from an April 2000
inspection that showed streaks of red rust and boric acid residue on
the huge dome-shaped lid.
_Whether NRC Chairman Richard Meserve lied or provided misleading
information in a letter to Reps. Edward Markey, D-Mass., and Marcy
Kaptur, D-Ohio. Meserve wrote the letter June 28 to explain why the
agency allowed postponement of the Davis-Besse inspection.
Workers removed the damaged reactor head at Davis-Besse on
Thursday and were to begin installing the replacement part.
The plant is expected to be operational by October, Schneider
Lochbaum, who said NRC investigators have interviewed him, said
the groups he represents want the NRC to delay the plant's restart
until the agency's investigations are finished.
"It's important that the NRC assure themselves that any workers
currently at the plant are not suspected of any kind of wrongdoing,"