At 4:41 p.m. on Friday afternoon -- a traditional time to try to sneak controversial news past the public -- December 2, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) publicly announced its decision to allow the Davis-Besse atomic reactor to re-start, despite lingering questions about its cracked shield building. NRC did so with a press release, and an attached Confirmatory Action Letter addressed to FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company.
The Toledo Blade reported on this story. It quoted Michael Keegan of Don't Waste Michigan:
"Michael Keegan, one of several critics who have intervened in the re-licensing proceedings, called the Confirmatory Action Letter 'a big fat nothing' and repeated his doubts about the wisdom of re-starting Davis-Besse.
The NRC’s re-start approval, he said, is 'a promise to kick the can down the road and roll the dice one more time. The concept of ‘Use As Is,’ when it comes to operating a nuclear power plant, is a risky proposition.' "
Beyond Nuclear, along with Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Green Party of Ohio, has won standing and admission of several contentions against the 20 year license extension sought by FENOC for Davis-Besse. Terry Lodge of Toledo serves as the environmental coalition's attorney. Al Compaan, emeritus chair of the University of Toledo physics department, serves as the coalition's expert witness. A year ago, Beyond Nuclear published a backgrounder on the many close calls with disaster Davis-Besse has experienced in the past 35 years of operations.
On November 4th, David Lochbaum, Director of the Nuclear Safety Project at the Union of Concerned Scientists, wrote the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission with questions regarding the cracking in the Davis-Besse shield building walls. He asked NRC to treat the questions as allegations, if they were unable to answer them before approving Davis-Besse's re-start.