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Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Task force report on D-B may be ready by September

Staff writer

A report could be available as soon as September on how governmental inspectors at nuclear power plants can learn a lesson from Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission established an independent task force the first week of May to evaluate the actions of NRC resident inspectors at the Carroll Township plant.

That's in light of the unprecedented amount of corrosion found on the reactor head during a routine refueling outage in February.

The task force includes members of the NRC outside the Region III, which governs Davis-Besse, according to NRC reports.

Arthur T. Howell III, a department head in the Region IV office in Arlington,

Texas, will head up the task force.

Representatives from the state of Ohio will have a role in the review activities as well, according to the NRC.

The task force will assess whether the NRC's oversight process needs to be enhanced and determine if general communications should be enhanced, among other things.

The task force will not focus on the specific inspectors at Davis-Besse, but rather on the oversight process as a whole, said NRC spokesman Jan Strasma last week.

The news of the task force came last week as NRC officials were gearing up to look at Davis-Besse operator FirstEnergy for possible regulatory violations.

At a meeting with the NRC and FirstEnergy recently, NRC officials said they would soon begin an investigation to see if the company should be sanctioned for its actions -- or lackthereof.

If the NRC investigation finds the company willfully violated the regulations or falsified information, a monetary fine could be involved.

If technical violations are found, more inspections and meetings to fix the problem would likely result.