Companies | Article published July 25, 2002|
Coalition wants Davis-Besse plant shut
(THE BLADE/JETTA FRASER)John Kiely, a structural
engineer with seven years of nuclear experience, calls
Davis-Besse ‘an accident wai- ting to happen’ during the news
A newly formed coalition of citizen advocacy
groups is calling for the closing of FirstEnergy Corp.’s troubled
Davis-Besse nuclear plant.
At a news conference in downtown
Toledo yesterday, coalition spokesman Steve Miller said the groups
want Davis-Besse shut down permanently. He said the Citizens
Campaign to Close Davis-Besse, made up of nine groups, wants other
things as well: jobs for displaced Davis-Besse workers, a reduced
dependence on fossil fuels, and more investment in alternative
sources of energy.
The coalition also hopes to prevent spent
nuclear fuel from Davis-Besse and other nuclear plants from being
transported cross-country to Nevada’s Yucca Mountain for
The coalition has planned a "Rally Against
Radiation" for Saturday from 1 to 6 p.m. at Crane Creek State Park
along State Rt. 2 in Ottawa County, just west of the nuclear plant.
Both the park and the nuclear plant are along the Lake Erie
shoreline, about 25 miles east of Toledo.
mayoral candidate Mike Ferner, a nuclear power skeptic for years,
said what happened at Davis-Besse was an "unacceptable threat" to
area residents, as well as to Lake Erie. Davis-Besse operated for 25
years before it was idled Feb. 16 for refueling. It has been the
focus of national attention since early March, when workers
discovered the plant’s steel reactor head had become so corroded
over the years that the device - an essential safeguard for the
public - was in the worst shape of any in the United States.
Davis-Besse’s reactor head was severely corroded by a pair of leaky
nozzles that allowed boric acid from the reactor to get on top of
the 17-foot-wide, 150-ton dome-shaped lid .
investigations and congressional inquiries have followed, including
one in which criminal charges could be issued by the federal Nuclear
Regulatory Commission. Several NRC officials have since acknowledged
it was the nation’s closest brush with a nuclear accident since
Three Mile Island in 1979. FirstEnergy officials have agreed they
let the reactor head degrade to an unacceptable condition but have
pointed out that there was not an accident at Davis-Besse. They
believe the plant’s containment building, the public’s last line of
defense, would have been strong enough to hold back radioactive
steam that would have been created if a hole had been created in the
One of those who spoke at the news conference
questioned that. John Kiely, a structural engineer with seven years
of nuclear experience, called Davis-Besse "an accident waiting to
happen." He said he fears corrosion particles and other debris
within the containment building could have clogged reactor coolant
pumps, complicating the ability of operators to perform an emergency
Dr. Kiely said he gained his understanding of
containment structures while designing them from 1969 to 1976 for
one of the world’s largest contractors, Bechtel Corp. of San
Francisco. He said he worked on containment structures built at the
Arkansas 1 nuclear plant in Arkansas and at the Limerick and Peach
Bottom nuclear complexes in Pennsylvania.
Richard Wilkins, a
FirstEnergy spokesman, said the company vows improvement. The
company hopes to get NRC approval by the end of this year to restart
Davis-Besse, using a reactor head from an unused plant in Midland,
"Granted, we have a problem with the reactor head," Mr.
Wilkins said. "We have a problem with how we executed our boric acid
corrosion plan. We did not do as good of a job as we should have.
Before we restart the plant, we’re going to make sure all of those
issues are addressed," he said.
In addition to the Nuclear
Information & Resource Service of Washington, the groups
sponsoring Saturday’s rally include Toledo Coalition for Safe
Energy, the University of Toledo Campus Greens, the Northwest Ohio
Green Party, the Ohio Green Party, the Northwest Ohio Peace
Coalition, Food Not Bombs, Citizens Protecting Ohio, and the Young
People’s Socialist League.
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