Companies | Article published October 25, 2002|
Kucinich vows to put nuclear plant to
Conditions would be placed on
By TOM HENRY
CLEVELAND - An Ohio congressman yesterday
promised to make Davis-Besse undergo "the highest threshold [of
tests] that any reactor has ever faced" if FirstEnergy Corp. follows
through with plans to restart the beleaguered nuclear plant east of
Toledo early next year.
"This burden of proof is not only a
technical burden of proof - it has become a moral burden of proof,"
U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D., Cleveland) said at the end of a
two-hour congressional field briefing he hosted at Cleveland City
The event drew 100 people and was the region’s first
such meeting since Davis-Besse’s unprecedented corrosion was
revealed March 6.
During the briefing, a Washington attorney
representing FirstEnergy acknowledged that the utility provided
"incomplete and inaccurate information" to the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission about past inspections.
FirstEnergy did not
immediately comprehend the extent of the problem because it placed
production ahead of safety, George Edgar, a partner in the
Washington law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius,
"The inspection was not thorough enough is the basic
answer," Mr. Edgar said, referring to an outage which preceded the
latest shutdown and could have halted the corrosion before it got so
In one part of the reactor, boric acid leaked out and
burned off all but two-tenths of an inch of steel covering the
pressurized vessel, putting northern Ohio on the cusp of a nuclear
accident comparable to the one at Three Mile Island in 1979,
officials have said. The reactor cap, a vital barrier against
cancer-causing radiation, had started to bulge and
Testimony was taken from Mr. Edgar; Jack Grobe,
Nuclear Regulatory Commission oversight panel chairman; Paul Gunter,
Nuclear Information and Research Service spokesman, and Howard
Whitcomb, a Toledo lawyer and Ottawa County resident who worked for
Davis-Besse in the 1980s shortly after leaving an NRC job as a
resident inspector at a South Carolina nuclear plant.
NRC has yet to admit its role as to how production was allowed over
safety," Mr. Gunter said. "Regulation without enforcement is
pointless and futile," he added.
Some people questioned a
recent NRC task force report that claimed the agency’s Midwestern
office was distracted by issues at other plants.
is unacceptable," Mr. Whitcomb said. "It is time there be an
independent investigation into the affairs of the NRC."
case could have ripple-effects throughout the nuclear industry as
the NRC continues to assess what went wrong at the plant and in its
own regulatory framework, officials said. "Clearly, we consider this
problem at Davis-Besse to be a very serious matter," Mr. Grobe
Mr. Kucinich said he was pleased by the testimony. "The
company acknowledged it was wrong, the NRC acknowledged there were
shortcomings, and now we have to see there are changes," he said.
"We’re going to take this dialogue to a new level."
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