Sunday, May 4, 2003

Davis-Besse needs work, report says

The Associated Press

OAK HARBOR, Ohio - A team of consultants hired by FirstEnergy Corp. to examine safety attitudes at the idled Davis-Besse nuclear power plant said more commitment to safety is needed.

"The team believes not all characteristics are present at the Davis-Besse station to ensure the long-term promotion of a positive safety culture," the consultants wrote.

The study is based on observations at Davis-Besse, a survey of 80 percent of the plant's 830 employees and interviews with 88 staffers.

Researchers visited the plant in February, wrote their report in March and presented it to the company in April.

A Nuclear Regulatory Commission panel overseeing the repair of Davis-Besse received copies of the report this week. FirstEnergy will be permitted to restart the reactor only after it proves to the NRC that safety measures at Davis-Besse have improved.

The company is hoping to restart the plant in eight to 12 weeks.

In March 2002, one month after a routine shutdown began at the plant along western Lake Erie, a cavity linked to boric acid was found in a 6-inch-thick steel cap covering the plant's reactor vessel. It was the most extensive corrosion ever at a U.S. nuclear reactor.

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