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Troubled Ohio Nuclear Power Plant to Reopen

March 15, 2004 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 82, Issue 11

The Davis Besse Nuclear Power Station near Oak Harbor, Ohio, will begin producing power in about two weeks, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced last week. The reactor has been shut down since February 2002, when NRC learned that corrosion had nearly eaten through the reactor vessel head. The result could have been a loss-of-coolant accident and a possible core meltdown. The corrosion was due to years of leakage from the reactor's primary coolant system, and although the owner/operator, FirstEnergy, was required to inspect and report on possible vessel head problems, the company did not do so. NRC was kept in the dark about the extent of the damage until it was revealed by a routine inspection. The incident generated a damning review of the company's and NRC's inspection protocols (C&EN, May 12, 2003, page 27). So far, FirstEnergy has avoided any enforcement action resulting from false reports it filed with NRC. NRC regional staff say an investigation is ongoing and there is legal action pending before the Department of Justice and the state attorney general. NRC says some 80 inspectors have overseen the repairs and three resident inspectors have been assigned to the plant during start-up procedures.


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