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Economy and Business


FirstEnergy's nuclear fleet set for upgrades
The utility's aging nuclear reactors require expensive upgrades, but nuclear power is a major component of the company's output
by WKSU's JEFF ST. CLAIR


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Jeff St. Clair
 
The Davis-Besse nuclear plant in Oak Harbor is awaiting license renewal from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The current licensed expires in 2017. Nuclear regulators say it could be another year before issues of storage of spent fuel are resolved nationally. The NRC issued it's largest fine ever after a large hole was discovered in the reactor head in 2002.
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Two of Akron-based FirstEnergy’s four nuclear reactors will soon undergo hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of upgrades.

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One of the two units at the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station, 80 miles southeast of Akron, will receive a new reactor vessel head and steam generator.

FirstEnergy spokeswoman Jennifer Young says years of planning go into the upgrade.

“We’re talking about the 2017 steam generator replacement right now, so this is something we plan for well in advance.  And it’s also something we bring in a skilled labor force that is used to doing this kind of work to perform.”

Young says crews next spring will also replace the steam generator at the Davis-Besse plant.  

Renewal of the operating license at Davis-Besse is on-hold until regulators work out new rules for storage of spent nuclear waste. 

Federal inspectors say cracks discovered in the concrete housing at Davis-Besse do not pose a safety threat.

Young says about 30% of FirstEnergy’s power generation comes from its four nuclear units in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
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