CARROLL TOWNSHIP -- Amid media attention and
motorist confusion, the new reactor head arrived Thursday -- albeit
a bit late -- to the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station.
The 187-foot long trailer, provided by DG Equipment of
Brookville, got a late start because of a traffic accident in Toledo
that blocked its route, said FirstEnergy spokesman Richard Wilkins.
"This is sort of a milestone and a turning point for
FirstEnergy," he said Thursday afternoon, when the head was safely
transferred onto a secondary flat-bed trailer. "It's a very tangible
sign of progress and moving forward with the restoration of the
The trailer hauling the new head snaked its way through Toledo to
I-280 and down eventually to Ohio 2, making progress at between 40
and 50 mph -- and catching the eye of motorists and law enforcement.
The head, measuring about 8 1/2 feet tall and 16 1/2 feet in
diameter, was cloaked in a heavy, black tarp for protection.
The Ohio Department of Transportation warned of traffic delays
Thursday because of the transport, and when it arrived at just after
noon to the Carroll Township plant it snarled traffic in front for
about 10 minutes.
Cars and trucks were blocked in both directions while the
massive, 84-ton reactor head and its trailer were pulled into the
Once the head was inside, though, it took more than three hours
to prepare the head to be lifted onto a flat-bed truck. That truck
is destined to take it into a protected area of the containment
building, said Todd Schneider, another FirstEnergy spokesman.
The move was precarious, with between 25 and 30 workers decked
out in blue, yellow and white hard-hats conversed continuously at
various stages of the transfer.
About 1:20 p.m. workers removed the black tarp to reveal a green
tarp, which had hooks to connect the crane's arms.
Workers then took another hour-and-a-half to secure the 500-ton
hydraulic crane, which topped out at a 65-foot boom reach and a
56-ton counterbalance to hold the reactor head.
The fervor when it finally lifted in the air was rather
anticlimactic, as the crane operator swung it ever so slowly to the
awaiting flat-bed truck while media and FirstEnergy officials looked
And while the transport of the 25-year-old, unused reactor head
from a Midland, Mich. plant was ahead of FirstEnergy's planned
schedule, the rest of the work isn't.
The containment building will likely be opened up in the next
month or two, Wilkins said, and the old reactor head will be taken
out before the new one is placed inside.
Meanwhile, more work needs to be done before the new head can
even go into that part of the containment facility, Schneider said.
"We're going to have to build a transport system to get it back
into containment," he added.
The old head will be taken to a low level waste facility for
disposal, although it is unclear where that will be.
Officials said, too, that work will go quickly to get the old and
the new switched out and containment sealed again. Guards will be
posted around the new head and around containment while it is opened
"It's not going to be open very long," Wilkins said.