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Wednesday, July 17, 2002

FirstEnergy to make some company changes

FirstEnergy, parent company of Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station, announced Tuesday a couple of changes at the company, as well as updated progress on the new reactor head.

For starters, it announced the newly formed restart overview panel, designed to get the thoughts of a few outside experts and company leaders before the plant goes for federal approval to restart.

Along with four members of FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co., the panel has some outside experts -- one is Chris Bakken, who has experience with extended outages while he was at the DC Cook plant.

Another such expert is Elmer "Buzz" Galbraith, who is with the industry oversight group Industry of Nuclear Power Operators. Also on the panel are retired NRC official Joe Callan, and Jack Martin, who is involved in the routine activities of Davis-Besse through the company's Nuclear Review Board.

And finally, the energy company drew on local experience as well, asking Ottawa County administrator Jere Witt to be on the panel, along with Davis-Besse historian Lou Storz.

The panel is designed to give independent oversight as Davis-Besse prepares to restart the plant, something company officials are hopeful can happen before the end of the year.

Also during the meeting, FirstEnergy officials updated the progress on the replacement of the reactor head with an unused one from a never-finished Midland, Mich. plant.

So far, workers have been able to cut through the containment building in Midland and modifications have been made to the lower service structure, said Bob Schrauder, director of support services for First Energy Nuclear Operating Co.

That modification includes cutting 10 large opening to allow for wide visibility when inspections occur in the future.

It was that modification that likely obscured the original Davis-Besse head from being properly inspected and contributed to the corrosion found in March.

The head, which weighs about 80 tons, is getting prepared to be moved by an 180-foot long truck to the Davis-Besse plant, Schrauder said.

Work is ahead of schedule and it likely will be brought to Carroll Township before Aug. 1, he said.

Meanwhile, the current Davis-Besse head is being cleaned and prepared for removal through a 20-foot by 20-foot opening that will be water-blasted through the containment building.