Nuclear Plant Under Investigation
nuclear plant owners may have altered records
September 3, 2002
Federal regulators are investigating whether the owner of a nuclear plant
where acid nearly ate through a 6-inch-thick steel reactor cap had altered
records about the damage, First- Energy Corp. says.
Todd Schneider, a spokesman for FirstEngegy Corp., which owns the plant
about 25 miles east of Toledo said that the utility was cooperating with
the Nuclear Regulatory Commission but would not provide details of the
investigation at the Davis-Besse plant near Toledo.
Schneider said that "Allegations of altered documents and records
are part of this investigation."
Davis-Besse has been shut down since March, when engineers discovered
that boric acid had nearly eaten through the steel cap on the reactor
vessel. It was the most extensive corrosion ever found on a U.S. nuclear
reactor and led to a nationwide review of all 69 similar plants.
The NRC has been investigating the corrosion and has said the leak that
caused it should have been spotted as many as four years ago.
Agency spokesman Jan Strasma would not say whether officials were investigating
whether FirstEngergy altered records.
A coalition of 14 environmental and nuclear watchdog groups is urging
the NRC to order an independent review of the plant.
Coalition spokesman David Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer with the Union
of Concerned Scientists, said that he was told by investigators that the
NRC is investigating whether FirstEnergy backdated videotapes, falsified
documents and withheld a photograph to make damage to the reactor lid
seen less severe than it actually was.
Workers removed the damaged head by crane and finished the process in
about five hours and were to begin installing a replacement. The new reactor
head was brought to the plant from Consumer Energy's never-completed nuclear
plant in Midland, Michigan. FirstEnergy is spending an estimated $55 million
to $75 million to replace the reactor head. The old reactor head will
remain at the plant while the Nuclear Regulatory Commission continues
to investigate the damage.
According to FirstEnergy officials, the plant is expected to be operational