| Article published Friday, June 14, 2002|
The Editors: Davis-Besse at critical juncture, expert
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
"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.
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
"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
Boric acid from Davis-Besse’s reactor leaked through
cracked nozzles in the 17-foot wide, steel reactor head for
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
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.
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.
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