RealCities Click here to visit other RealCities sites
beaconjournal.com - The beaconjournal home page
 
Help Contact Us Site Index Archives Newspaper Subscriptions   

 Search
Search the Archives

Local & State
Medina
Ohio
Portage
Stark
Summit
Wayne
Sports
Baseball
Basketball
Colleges
Football
High School
Business
Arts & Living
Health
Food
Enjoy
Your Home
Religion
Premier
Travel
Entertainment
Movies
Music
Television
Theater
US & World
Editorial
Voice of the People
Columnists
Obituaries
Corrections
GO TO THE WORLD SERIES!
From the first pitch to the last, follow the Indians and all the MLB action this season!
Plus register to win a trip to the World Series
Back to Home >  Beacon Journal > 

Editorial Editorial





Posted on Tue, Aug. 20, 2002 story:PUB_DESC
Failing at FirstEnergy
In its own words, the utility `gave away the margin of safety'

An energy company can hardly make a more damning comment about its operation of a nuclear power plant than the one uttered last week by FirstEnergy. Steve Loehlein led the task force put together by the Akron-based utility to examine damage at its Davis-Besse nuclear power plant. He admitted: ``We gave away the margin of safety.''

Lew Myers, the chief operating officer for FirstEnergy's nuclear power plant subsidiary, added: ``As an organization, we are very humble and embarrassed.'' The public has reason to be angry at the neglect. A utility that leaves no detail unattended in its lobbying campaigns at the Statehouse lost touch with first purposes in the nuclear industry.

On Thursday, FirstEnergy executives met with Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials to provide their analysis of how the company failed to do its job in running the plant. The Davis-Besse facility halted operations in February after the discovery of two cavities on top of the vessel head covering the reactor core. The cavities were caused by boric acid leaking from tiny cracks in the vessel head. One cavity penetrated to a steel lining, the last line of defense against further and more serious trouble.

FirstEnergy, long a corporate contributor to the community, deserves credit for its forthcoming approach since February, providing its own tough assessment of its performance. The company noted that plant management failed to follow and enforce regulations. The staff let slide indications that the reactor was being gradually harmed over a period of years. Minimal steps were taken to meet regulatory requirements. The primary focus was exceeding production goals (all the more shortsighted in view of the plant not likely resuming operations until next year).

Too much of the discussion about nuclear energy veers toward fear and exaggeration at the expense of reason. That has been true about Davis-Besse. Foes of nuclear power would like nothing better than the political victory of closing a plant. They duck the reality that no one was hurt. Radiation did not escape.

The industry remains safe, as it does in a country such as France where the bulk of electricity flows from nuclear power. That doesn't change the political dynamic. Utilities must go to extraordinary lengths to protect the credibility of their operations. FirstEnergy fell far short, as Steve Loehlein acknowledged. The public is ill-served not only because foes of the power source have an invitation to overstate their case but it becomes more difficult to make the argument for nuclear energy as a tool in combating global warming.

FirstEnergy will likely face a stiff fine. Good, if it ensures the margin of safety at all nuclear facilities. Criminal investigations should proceed for the same reason. Federal regulators should clean up their act. (They were on site all the while!) FirstEnergy already has begun. It cannot get started early enough recovering from its own damning assessment.

 email this |  print this



Shopping & Services

  Find a Job

  Find a Car

  Find a Home

  Find an Apartment

  Classifieds Ads

  Shop Nearby
INVEST YOUR TIME WISELY
Keep up with local business news and information, Market updates, and more!
The latest in business news
Stocks
Enter symbol/company name
 


News | Business | Sports | Entertainment | Living | Classifieds