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FirstEnergy announces four reactor closures, scheduled for 2020 and 2021

Photo showing Davis-Besse's cracked concrete containment Shield Building, as well as its cooling tower, with the waters of Lake Erie immediately to the north.On the 39th annual commemoration of the beginning of the Three Mile Unit 2 meltdown (March 28, 1979 to March 28, 2018), FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC) issued a press release announcing its schedule for permanent shutdowns of four atomic reactors in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

FENOC announced:

The plants scheduled for retirement are:

  • Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station (908 MW) in Oak Harbor, Ohio, in 2020 [see photo, left]
  • Beaver Valley Power Station (1,872 MW) in Shippingport, Pa.,
    in 2021
  • Perry Nuclear Power Plant (1,268 MW) in Perry, Ohio, in 2021

However, FENOC added:

In the interim, the plants will continue normal operations, as FES [FirstEnergy Solutions] seeks legislative policy solutions as an alternative to deactivation or sale. (emphasis added)

Thus, it seems clear that FirstEnergy has not given up on its efforts of many years, and counting, to secure massive bailouts, at public expense, to prop up its economically failed (and ever more risky, due to age-related degradation) atomic reactors. FirstEnergy has been very active, for many long years already, at both the State of Ohio and the federal level, in seeking such subsidies, at ratepayer and/or taxpayer expense. Fortunately, they have not succeeded -- not yet anyway. 

Tellingly, FirstEnergy included the following nuclear-related subject matter in its "Forward-Looking Statements" legal fine print at the bottom of the press release:

...adverse regulatory or legal decisions and outcomes with respect to our nuclear operations (including, but not limited to, the revocation or non-renewal of necessary licenses, approvals or operating permits by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission or as a result of the incident at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant); issues arising from the indications of cracking in the shield building at Davis-Besse; changing market conditions that could affect the measurement of certain liabilities and the value of assets held in our Nuclear Decommissioning Trusts, pension trusts and other trust funds, and cause us and/or our subsidiaries to make additional contributions sooner, or in amounts that are larger than currently anticipated...(emphasis added)

Beyond Nuclear helped lead the watch-dogging campaign on Davis-Besse's concrete containment Shield Building cracking. From 2011, when the cracking was first revealed, and continuing for several long years, Beyond Nuclear introduced multiple cracking-related contentions opposing Davis-Besse's 2017-2037 license extension. See the comprehensive backgrounder on the cracking prepared by Beyond Nuclear in August 2012, early in the course of the cracking related legal work.

Beyond Nuclear was allied with local grassroots groups, including the Green Party of Ohio, Don't Waste Michigan, and Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, in the legal intervention against Davis-Besse's license extension. Toledo attorney Terry Lodge served as legal counsel for Beyond Nuclear and the environmental coalition. (This also included a challenge against Davis-Besse's risky replacement steam generators, in which the Ohio Sierra Club Nuclear-Free Committee, and expert witness Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer at Fairewinds Associates, joined the coalition's legal opposition to Davis-Besse risks.)

 However, the complicit and colluding Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and its kangaroo court Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, rubber-stamped the 20-year license extension in late 2015, regardless of the safety significance of the cracking.

Watchdogs must remain vigilant against FirstEnergy's still ongoing lobbying for massive bailouts, to prop up its four failing atomic reactors in OH and PA. The reactors should be permanently shutdown ASAP, given the ever increasing age-related degradation safety risks.