Congressman Dennis Kucinich said he is only beginning to ask
questions about how negligence by FirstEnergy and the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission damaged the Davis-Besse nuclear power
The Lakewood Democrat, in a ``field briefing'' Thursday at
Cleveland City Hall, asked the NRC if it will make available
videotapes FirstEnergy made in 2000 at Davis-Besse.
The Akron utility videotaped the reactor vessel head then and
gave the tape to the agency, saying it showed no damage or boric
acid accumulation. Boric acid-created cavities were discovered on
the vessel head during an inspection in March, while subsequent
research showed the acid corrosion probably started in 1998 and
While Kucinich said he wanted to see how investigations in
Congress and by the NRC's inspector general's office play out, he
did say further investigation will be needed. The congressman said
his staff on Thursday had received a stack of NRC documents they had
requested as part of their own inquiry into the Oak Harbor plant,
about 25 miles east of Toledo.
The morning briefing in the City Council chamber involved a
four-member panel made up of FirstEnergy lawyer George Edgar, NRC
official Jack Grobe, watchdog group representative Paul Gunter and
Ottawa County resident Howard Whitcomb, a former NRC inspector and
Davis-Besse employee who has been a vocal Davis-Besse and NRC
critic. The event attracted more than 50 people, including the
participants and media.
``We're just at the beginning of these questions. Just the
beginning,'' Kucinich said. ``The company acknowledges it was wrong.
The NRC acknowledges that there have been shortcomings. And now we
have to make sure that the system is changed in order to protect
Gunter, of the anti-nuclear watchdog group Nuclear Information
and Resource Service, said while Davis-Besse's vessel head had a
hole in it, the larger holes are in the credibility of FirstEnergy
and the NRC.
FirstEnergy attorney, Edgar, said the utility won't seek approval
to restart the plant until it is convinced Davis-Besse can operate
safely and reliably. The company has said it hopes to restart the
plant in early 2003.
Likewise, Grobe, chairman of the NRC panel overseeing the
Davis-Besse restart efforts, said Davis-Besse will not be allowed to
power up until his agency is convinced the plant will be safely
repaired and operated.
``Safety is our only focus, and not schedule,'' he said.
Grobe said after the hearing the NRC has halted temporarily three
of its own inspections of work being done at Davis-Besse. The
inspections will be resumed at a later stage of the work, likely in
several weeks, he said. ``It's not a big deal,'' he said.
Kucinich said he thought all four panel members were
``It's healthy when the company is willing to come forward in a
public forum and answer questions, unrehearsed questions,'' he said.
``This is the beginning. And it's a good beginning. What it is all
about is regaining public confidence.''