FirstEnergy told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Wednesday
that it is putting into place numerous programs and procedures
designed to forestall the kind of neglect that created unprecedented
boric acid damage at the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant.
But a top NRC official, Jack Grobe, said the company ``clearly is
not there yet'' in meeting safety goals and expectations that will
allow the federal agency to approve a restart once repairs are
The NRC and FirstEnergy met at the nuclear plant complex in a
nearly four-hour meeting Wednesday that the public could listen in
on over telephone.
FirstEnergy on Tuesday said it hopes Davis-Besse can be refueled
Oct. 30 and be back up to full power Dec. 7. The Oak Harbor plant
has been closed since early March after two acid-created cavities
were found on top of the reactor's former vessel head, a large steel
dome that covers the radioactive fuel.
The company bought a replacement vessel head and has placed it
inside the massive concrete and steel containment chamber building
that protects the reactor. The company's repair schedule calls for
bolting the new vessel head in place in early November.
The company said it is making safety, not profit, the plant's top
priority. FirstEnergy's self-analysis of what went wrong at
Davis-Besse reported that previous plant management had emphasized
production over safety.
``We're at risk of forgetting that all of this is people,'' Grobe
said. ``Your challenge is to get into the hearts and minds of all
the people in your organization.... You're clearly not there
FirstEnergy's plan to revamp how Davis-Besse is managed and
operated is aimed at bringing the plant up to NRC requirements, said
NRC spokeswoman Viktoria Mitlyng.
The utility was criticized in a meeting with the same NRC
officials Tuesday after it acknowledged that a large crane that is a
permanent fixture inside the containment chamber failed an
inspection by a senior manager after a recent upgrade. While the
crane is not a safety issue, the contractors doing the upgrade
should have known they needed to maintain the highest standards
especially in light of the plant's highly publicized problems, the
As part of its efforts to correct problems, FirstEnergy
executives said Wednesday that they have replaced top managers at
Davis-Besse and made other organizational changes within its nuclear
operating company subsidiary.
Also, FirstEnergy has put into place safety training programs for
employees and is creating an atmosphere in which employees will not
be punished for pointing out problems, they said.
FirstEnergy's presentation included a survey of Davis-Besse
employees that showed a sharp drop this year in their faith in
``It's news that you need, but it's not good news,'' Grobe said.
FirstEnergy's efforts to improve human performance are just now
``starting to have coherence,'' he said.
FirstEnergy has to demonstrate that all of the human performance
problems have been fixed before the NRC can approve restarting the
plant, Grobe said.
While FirstEnergy hopes to have Davis-Besse up to full power by
Dec. 7, ``we're not driven by the licensee's (FirstEnergy's)
schedule,'' said Christine Lipa, a supervisor in the NRC's Chicago
regional office that oversees Davis-Besse.