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June 14, 2002

 



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Regional News | Article published Friday, June 14, 2002
The Editors: Davis-Besse at critical juncture, expert says

A FirstEnergy Corp. spokesman said during the taping of a local television show that Davis-Besse’s reactor-head corrosion has implications nationally, and that the 25-year-old Ottawa County plant is facing a "defining moment’’ in its history.

"I would agree that this is a serious situation, that it’s a significant event and, in fact, will be a defining moment for the plant," Richard Wilkins, spokesman for FirstEnergy, responded on The Editors television program when asked by co-hosts Thomas Walton and Marilou Johanek to compare Davis-Besse’s current situation to that of Three Mile Island.

Mr. Walton is vice president-editor of The Blade, and Ms. Johanek is a member of the newspaper’s editorial board.

The show will be broadcast at 9 tonight on WGTE-TV, Channel 30, and at 12:30 p.m. Sunday on WBGU-TV, Channel 27.

Mr. Wilkins said FirstEnergy is committed to making improvements and will make sure Davis-Besse is safe to operate again before seeking authorization from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to restart the plant.

"While we do want to return the plant to service as soon as possible, we will not do that until we have restored the plant to a safe and reliable operating status," he said.

Amy Ryder, director of Ohio Citizen Action’s Cleveland office, said FirstEnergy does not deserve another chance. Ohio Citizen Action is a statewide group that wants Davis-Besse shut down permanently, although Ms. Ryder claimed it does not feel that way about each of the nation’s 103 nuclear plants.

"Nuclear power is an unforgiving technology, and this [prob- lem at Davis-Besse] was the evidence the public needed to know that this plant should no longer operate," Ms. Ryder said.

Boric acid from Davis-Besse’s reactor leaked through cracked nozzles in the 17-foot wide, steel reactor head for years.

The result was a reactor head with the worst corrosion in U.S. history, eroded so much that NRC officials feared radioactive steam could have escaped and put the plant’s containment building - the public’s last shield - under pressure itself. The massive corrosion was either undetected or unreported, NRC officials said.

Davis-Besse plans to make as much as $145 million in improvements to Davis-Besse by the end of the year, more than half of which will be spent on replacing the original head with one that the Midland 2 nuclear plant in Michigan never used. That plant was shut down in 1984 before it was completed. FirstEnergy has acquired the rights to that head from Framatome ANP of France.

Though the utility hopes to have Davis-Besse running again no later than Dec. 31, NRC officials have said the government will not commit itself to any such timetable.


More articles on this subject »
Davis-Besse may get help 06/13/2002
Davis-Besse topic of 3 meetings 06/07/2002
N-plants will be told to improve inspections 06/07/2002
Davis-Besse makes pricey plans 06/06/2002
NRC officials back Davis-Besse reactor-head plan 06/05/2002

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