CARROLL TOWNSHIP -- The Nuclear Regulatory
Commission will release its findings next week from an independent
study on reactor head corrosion at Davis-Besse Nuclear Power
"They left the site today and they will be working on their
findings between now and next Friday," said NRC spokesman Jan
Strasma Thursday of the team of investigators. "They'll have a
written report two to four weeks after the meeting."
During the April 5 meeting, members of the NRC inspection team
will meet with representatives of FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co.,
which operates Davis-Besse.
The meeting is open to the public, and before the meeting is
concluded the floor will be open to questions from the public.
The inspection team will discuss its findings on the cause of the
corrosion, as well as the finding of previous evidence that would
have suggested a problem, Strasma said.
The presentation also will touch on the details of the damage
itself, he added.
During its routine biennial refueling outage, Davis-Besse
officials found two significant cracks in two out of 69 nozzles that
hold control rods, which move in and out of the reactor core to
control the reaction.
It also found smaller cracks in three other nozzles.
While repairing one of the significantly cracked nozzles, workers
found an unprecedented amount of corrosion, thought to be caused by
the boric acid contained in the cooling water in the reactor.
That crack, according to a report by Davis-Besse investigators,
occurred at least nine years ago and went undetected for the most
part by monitoring equipment.
Davis-Besse officials believe the boric acid leaked through the
crack in the nozzle and ate away 6 inches worth of steel to the
stainless steel liner on the reactor head.
Plant officials still believe the problem may be fixed by cutting
out the damaged area and welding a large piece of stainless steel on
The plant is expected to remain down until at least June, and
FirstEnergy projected spending between $10 million to $15 million
per month in energy costs to buy electricity wholesale while the
plant is off-line.
Repairs are estimated to cost between $5 million and $10 million,
but there is no guarantee the reactor head can be repaired.
Plant officials are being required to get approval from the NRC
for any repair plan, and it is still possible the NRC could reject
any repair offer and make FirstEnergy replace the reactor head.
FirstEnergy already has a reactor head on order from the French
company that made the original equipment.
It is being constructed now, but could take many months to
Davis-Besse officials had set the goal of installing the new
reactor head at the next biennial refueling in 2004.