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Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Shakeup tied to corrosion woes

Company won't say how many workers affected

Staff writer

CARROLL TOWNSHIP -- Personnel changes that shook up Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station last week were focused around those who worked with the boric acid corrosion issue, said a spokesman Tuesday.

Implementation of the boric acid corrosion control program has been highly criticized by federal regulators as one of the reasons why a football-sized hole in the plant's reactor head was not found earlier.

The plant, owned and operated by the Akron-based company FirstEnergy, has been shut down since February because of the finding, and officials have set a target restart date of Dec. 7.

Officials at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, though, have said they will take as long as needed to determine if the plant is safe enough for restart.

The most recent spate of actions against employees at the plant dealt mainly with those who worked in controlling boric acid on the reactor head, said FirstEnergy spokesman Richard Wilkins.

"The program itself has been revamped, the one we were using over the years was fairly typical of the industry, although in our case the guidance for implementing it was not as clear as it should have been," Wilkins said. "There are different people managing that program now."

The action against employees ranged from no action, negative evaluations, demotions, transfers and firing.

The company has two other nuclear plants around Ohio -- Perry in Northeast Ohio and Beaver Valley on the border between Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Company officials, however, are mum about the amount of people affected by the personnel shifts.

The most recent actions, completed last week, followed months of personnel shifts and restructuring that has brought about 15 new faces to the 22 top level management positions in the company.

"I don't want to say we're not going to make any more changes," Wilkins said cautiously, adding that most of the major changes have already taken place. "We may decide there's more structural changes in the organization that need to be made."