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Environment


New problems at Ohio nuclear plant are unexpected
NRC promises a public meeting before plant is allowed to restart
by WKSU's M.L. SCHULTZE


Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
 
In The Region:
The cracking problems at the Davis Besse nuclear power plant are not what either its owner, nor the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, expected to see. WKSU's M.L. Schultze says that's because they thought the problem was solved six years ago.
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Eight years ago, acid ate a football-sized hole through the steel reactor head of FirstEnergy’s Davis Besse nuclear power plant. So instead of layers of nearly seven inches of heavy steel holding in a ton of pressure per square inch, that spot was protected by just a half inch of stainless steel.
 
The plant shut down, the head was replaced, FirstEnergy  was fined and the plant reopened two years later.
 
But that history is playing big in the minds of Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspectors at Davis Besse now. That’s because FirstEnergy has discovered cracks and other flaws in at least 16 of the nozzles that are used to move control rods in and out the reactor. Cracks in the nozzles could lead to the same type of corrosion the plant experienced before.
And NRC spokeswoman Viktoria Mitlyng says no one expected that problem in a new reactor head.
“For a completely new head to develop indications of cracks in this number of nozzles is unusual. And we need to understand why that is.”
The plant east of Toledo has been shut down since Feb.28. Given the history of problems, Mitlyng says a there will be a public meeting before the plant can reopen. Those meetings usually are private between the regulatory commission and plant operators.
 
 
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