CARROLL TOWNSHIP -- The Nuclear Regulatory Commission confirmed
Thursday it found 10 violations of NRC rules at the Davis-Besse
Nuclear Power Station during a summer-long investigation.
Many of the violations revolve around the plant's inability to
clean boric acid off the reactor head -- as well as its inability to
spot symptoms of a much bigger problem in boric acid corrosion.
The plant has been down since February because workers found a
hole in the reactor head. In the ensuing investigations, it was
found excessive boric acid leakage from the coolant water in the
reactor ate away at the steel head, causing the hole.
The significance of the violations found, however, has not yet
been determined -- though all were called "more than minor" in the
Since this team's exit interview with Davis-Besse parent company
FirstEnergy in August, another team has been reviewing the
violations to determine significance.
FirstEnergy spokesman Richard Wilkins said this morning the
findings were anticipated, and that all were either fixed or in the
process of being fixed.
"The findings in that report were pretty consistent with our own
internal inquiries and root cause report," he said. "All will be
addressed before we restart the plant."
Examples of the violations cited by the NRC include:
Allowing the plant to operate with what's called "pressure
boundary leakage." That means the boric acid was allowed to leak
through cracks in the reactor coolant system. Boric acid is added to
the coolant water in the reactor to help control the nuclear
Multiple examples of inaccurate or incomplete information
submitted by FirstEnergy to the NRC regarding Davis-Besse.
"Completeness and accuracy in the documents associated with this
issue would have provided an earlier alert to (FirstEnergy) staff
and the U.S. NRC about the problems ...," wrote inspectors in a
Failing to clean the head adequately of boric acid, and failing
to do anything to correct the problem that resulted in excessive
boric acid on the head.
Failing to correct accumulations of boric acid on air cooler
fins in the containment area. Company officials have said that
build-up should have been an indication there was an unidentified
leak on the reactor head. Failure to solve that problem likely
contributed to the reactor head degradation.
Failing to investigate repeated clogging of radiation element
filters, which also were an indication of boric acid degradation on
Failing to identify leakage on the reactor head, which points to
deficiencies in the company's Boric Acid corrosion Control program.
Originally published Friday, October 4, 2002