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Davis-Besse supervisor sues FirstEnergy over leave

10/23/02

John Funk
Plain Dealer Reporter

A veteran supervisor of the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant on paid leave for a month over repairs to a crane has sued FirstEnergy Corp., the reactor's owner.

Timothy Tackett believes he was placed on paid administrative leave in September because he complained to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that plant managers pushed employees to stay on schedule even as they told the NRC that safety was first.

The company said Tackett, of Oak Harbor, was placed on leave Sept. 19 because he did not properly supervise contract workers who were repairing a huge overhead crane. The crane is used to lift the reactor's lid and other heavy machinery in the containment building that surrounds the reactor.

Tackett, an employee since 1987, filed suit in Ottawa County Common Pleas Court for unspecified damages.

FirstEnergy is making extensive repairs to the Toledo-area plant, down since February with a rust hole in the reactor's lid.

Spokesman Todd Schneider said the company was surprised because Tackett is still an employee.

"Our plan was for him to return to work after our review," he said. "That continues to be our plan."

Though not named, Tackett was identified by reference during the NRC's monthly meeting Sept. 17 with Davis-Besse's top managers.

Mike Stevens, director of plant maintenance, said that while major repairs on the crane were complete, a host of more minor repairs had gone undone. Stevens told the NRC that the job supervisor had not focused on making sure the work was of the highest quality.

Stevens said he pulled the crane back out of service, ordered the work completed and called a meeting of project managers to emphasize that quality is the new focus.

Tackett declined to talk about his suit yesterday on the advice of his lawyer, who did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Citing policy, NRC spokesman Jan Strasma said he could not confirm, as alleged in the suit, that the NRC has received a number of similar complaints from other plant workers and is investigating.

"But we are aware of the situation because of news reports," he said.

Separately, the NRC's director of nuclear reactor regulation denied an appeal of an NRC decision in August rejecting a petition by 14 watchdog and environmental groups that the agency appoint an independent committee to oversee repairs at Davis-Besse.

The petition was filed in April.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:

jfunk@plaind.com, 216-999-4138


2002 The Plain Dealer. Used with permission.
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