CLEVELAND -- At a hearing Thursday in Cleveland City Hall,
Congressman Dennis Kucinich pressed energy company FirstEnergy and a
federal regulator for answers to the well publicized problems at the
Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station.
He received little, however, by way of answers except for much of
what has already been said in monthly public meetings between the
utility and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
FirstEnergy lawyer George Edgar testified on the behalf of the
Akron-based power company, which owns Davis-Besse, and Jack Grobe
testified for the NRC.
Also testifying before Kucinich were self-described activist and
nuclear industry watchdog Paul Gunter of the Nuclear Information and
Research Service in Washington and Oak Harbor lawyer Howard
Whitcomb, who was a former NRC inspector and former analyst for
"This is one of many discussions," Kucinich said after the
two-and-a-half hour hearing. "We have to get to the facts related to
He appeared to be equally critical of FirstEnergy and the NRC,
which he said both have a role in missing the unprecedented amount
of corrosion on the reactor head, found in March at the Carroll
Just as both missed it, he said, both have to look at their
shortcomings and find a way to resolve them safely before the plant
returns to service, if it ever does.
He also expressed a bit of irritation at the NRC for providing
him with a 2-inch stack of documents just before Thursday's hearing
that his office requested in August.
The Congressman promised he would review them and return to the
NRC with more questions, possibly through another public meeting.
Kucinich was one of four members of Congress who supported a
request by watchdog groups for independent review of the Davis-Besse
problems. That request was denied officially this week by the NRC.
Much of the discussion at Thursday's hearing revolved around why
FirstEnergy didn't find the corrosion until March, despite several
warning signs that should have tipped off operators.
"The inspection was not thorough, that's the simple answer,"
Edgar told the Congressman.
Grobe was asked to explain why it was so lax on allowing
Davis-Besse to skirt a required inspection before Dec. 31, 2001 that
likely would have exposed leakage problems.
The NRC has come under heavy fire for the decision to allow
Davis-Besse to continue operating until February, instead of
shutting it down for inspection at the end of 2001.
Originally published Friday, October 25, 2002