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Sunday
Nov202011

Fire latest emergency at problem-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has reported that a fire, cutting power to ventilation in the reactor control room at the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant near Toledo, prompted owner/operator FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC) to notify federal and state officials of an emergency alert status for several hours last week. The fire was caused by a faulty valve in a pipe carrying purified water to the reactor core, which leaked onto an electrical switchbox, causing an electrical arc and fire. Luckily, the reactor has been shut down since October 1st for major repairs, including the removal of the plant's 82 ton, corroded, second reactor lid. Severe corrosion on the reactor's original lid in 2002 represented the most infamous close call to a disaster at a U.S. atomic reactor since the 1979 meltdown at Three Mile Island. A giant hole cut in radiological containment structures for the reactor lid "transplant operation" revealed a 30 foot long crack in the reinforced concrete shield building, as well as additional cracks in the shield building. Despite this, FENOC hopes to persuade the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to allow it to restart Davis-Besse by the end of November. Beyond Nuclear has joined forces with Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Green Party of Ohio in an intervention opposing FENOC's proposed 2017 to 2037 license extension at the now 35 year old reactor. On Halloween, while Beyond Nuclear performed an "I Have a Scream!" protest against radioactive waste at Energy Department headquarters in Washington, D.C., our environmental coalition allies performed a solidarity action in Toledo against Davis-Besse. A week earlier, they held a press conference about the cracks, calling on the Toledo City Council to pass a resolution urging Davis-Besse's permanent closure, which the Cleveland Plain Dealer covered.