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Science and Technology

Davis Besse's renewal is not affected by NRC suspension, for now
Public meeting about strutcural safety data at the plant is scheduled for Thursday

Tim Rudell
Davis Besse is one of two nuclear power plant in Ohio nearing the end of their original 40-year licenses.
Courtesy of TIM RUDELL
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In The Region:

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced this week it is suspending final decisions on nuclear plant licenses and extensions until it complies with a court order to re-assess risks in the storage of spent nuclear fuel.  Practically speaking, the NRC says that doesn’t mean a lot because it has no final decisions pending. But it does have requests at earlier stages of the process, including for Ohio’s two nuclear reactors.

And WKSU’s Tim Rudell reports that the commission is going ahead with a meeting tomorrow night about cracks in a safety structure of one of those plants.

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Nuclear Regulatory Commission staffers are holding the public meeting in Oak Harbor to address why it allowed Davis-Besse to go back on line despite fine cracks found in its “shield building” last fall. 

Some opponents fear the cracks mean the domed concrete structure over the nuclear heart of the plant might not hold in a reactor explosion.  

John Stevenson is an International Atomic Energy Agency advisor, says they’re right -- but only because it’s the job of the hardened steel “containment vessel” around the reactor, not the shield building, to do that.

 “The point is, the structure itself is not designed for, nor is it expected ever to have to withstand internal pressure.”

At most, Stevenson says the concrete shield might contain some ambient radiation, but it’s big job is to keep outside forces – from tornados to terrorists – out. Stevenson also says all concrete structures develop cracks, and judging their significance does require study.

“That it has cracks in and of itself does not present a problem.  It all depends on what caused the cracks, the size of the cracks, and their nature.” 

 The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at Oak Harbor High School.



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