| Article published March 19, 2002|
damage found on Davis-Besse reactor
BLADE STAFF WRITER
OAK HARBOR - More
damage has been found on top of FirstEnergy Corp.’s Davis-Besse
nuclear plant reactor.
Boric acid from the reactor is now
believed to have escaped through two points of the dome-shaped,
17-foot-wide steel lid that covers the vessel, Richard Wilkins,
FirstEnergy spokesman, said last night. In each case, the acid has
gotten through cracks in long steel tubes known as control rod drive
The nozzles, welded into the reactor head,
are primary safety devices because they help operators control what
goes on inside the reactor.
The latest inspection revealed
the same type of evidence that led to last week’s initial discovery
of massive corrosion: Salt-like deposits of boric acid on top of the
reactor head next to a cracked nozzle, Mr. Wilkins
Officials have described the corrosion found around one
nozzle last week as the worst of its kind on a U.S. nuclear reactor
Boric acid burned through all six inches of carbon
steel on top of the vessel head, creating a cavity about four inches
wide and five inches across. It was stopped by only a half-inch of
stainless steel, which is impervious to that type of
The extent of the damage of the latest discovery won’t
be known for about two weeks, in part because the nozzle in question
is hard to remove. Much of the work will be done by robotic
equipment, Mr. Wilkins said.
Jan Strasma, spokesman for the
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Midwest regional office in
Lisle, Ill., was not available for comment last night.
plant has been shut down since Feb. 16, when it was taken off line
for refueling. The utility brought in about 50 experts from across
the country to discuss what repairs should be made after the initial
corrosion was found.
The government agency sent in its own
team of inspectors, and notified all other nuclear plants to be on
the lookout for similar problems. FirstEnergy announced last week
that the plant could remain idle until the end of June, possibly
three months longer than originally planned. It was not immediately
known if the discovery of additional corrosion will cause a further
delay, Mr. Wilkins said.