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Ohio nuclear plant's problem nozzles now total 24
FirstEnergy says problems are being fixed, but still doesn't know the root cause
by WKSU's M.L. SCHULTZE


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M.L. Schultze
 
Akron-based FirstEnergy hopes it has identified the last of its nozzle troubles at its Davis Besse nuclear power plant. But WKSU's M.L. Schultze says it's still trying to figure out how those problems arose so soon.
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The head of the reactor at FirstEnergy’s Davis Besse nuclear power plant has been operating for only about six years. Which is FirstEnergy was surprised in March when it discovered cracks in some of the nozzles that penetrate that the reactor head , and through which control rods are fed.
Now by a final count, 24 of the nozzles have cracks.
FirstEnergy spokesman Todd Schneider says they’re all being fixed.
“We cut the bottom part of the nozzle out, machine it out and then we reweld it back onto the head and then we grind it and do a final test,” Schneider said.
“It’s a very involved process and of course it will be thoroughly tested before we bring the plant back on line.”
Most of the cracks are very small. But Schneider says FirstEnergy has a “root cause” team trying to figure out how the problems -- of any size -- arose in the first place.  It hopes to reopen the reactor  east of Toledo in July. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission  says, given the  history of the plant, that won’t happen until after a public hearing.
The NRC shut down Davis Besse in 2002 after acid nearly ate a whole through the reactor head. It remained closed for two years, and the company paid a record fine.
 

 
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