OAK HARBOR, Ohio - FirstEnergy Corp. has set a
restart date of Dec. 7 for its Davis-Besse nuclear plant near
"This is doable," said Lew Myers, chief operating officer of
FirstEnergy Corp.'s nuclear division. "You don't make a schedule to
But the Nuclear Regulatory Commission would not commit to
FirstEnergy's timetable during a monthly meeting Tuesday to review
progress in the plant's repair.
During a maintenance shutdown, investigators in March found that
boric acid had nearly eaten through a 6-inch steel cap on the
reactor vessel. The plant has been closed since then.
It was the most extensive corrosion found on a U.S. nuclear
reactor and led to a nationwide review of all 69 similar plants.
Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. is spending an estimated $55 million
to $75 million to replace the reactor head.
The NRC wants to make sure that not only are the equipment
repairs completed properly, but also that the management lapses that
allowed the corrosion to fester for years are fixed.
"We are not driven by schedule but by performance," said Jack
Grobe, who heads the special NRC panel overseeing the rehabilitation
of the Toledo-area plant.
On Oct. 30, Davis-Besse managers hope to reload the reactor's
radioactive fuel rods into the core. On Nov. 3, they'll bolt down
the new lid.
After tests, the reactor will be brought up to its normal
605-degree operating temperature on Nov. 19, and 15 days later, if
the NRC gives its approval, the reactor would be restarted. It
should be at full power by Dec. 7.
But all that depends on the successful resolution of more than
1,400 reports citing conditions within the plant that need to be
corrected. The restart also will require the approval of the NRC's
Midwest regional director and other officials.
One of the projects FirstEnergy is undertaking to improve
Davis-Besse is an improvement of a safety system that keeps the
reactor supplied with coolant if there is a large pipe leak.
The emergency system pulls spilled coolant from a sump in the
floor of the reactor building and recirculates it. The coolant flows
through a filter screen, which experts worry could become blocked by
At Davis-Besse, engineers have augmented the sump with a network
of perforated pipes that will snake across the containment building
floor, decreasing the chance of a clog.
Plant manager Randy Fast said the improvement will put it in a
leadership role in the nuclear industry.
Information from: The Plain Dealer