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NRC inspection report reveals more problems at Davis-Besse in aftermath of cracked containment

A U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) inspection report dated Jan. 31, 2012, reveals numerous problems at FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Corpoation's (FENOC) problem-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor near Toledo, Ohio on the Lake Erie shoreline. Incredibly, despite its infamy for having to replace its reactor vessel head twice in one decade, FENOC still resisted inspecting its third, newest lid for potential defects, until NRC forced it to. No defects were found, but had there been any, FENOC would have not known prior to installation. (FENOC had previously installed a new lid at its Beaver Valley nuclear power plant suspected of being potentially defective.)

In addition, despite the controversy over its recently revealed concrete containment building cracks, FENOC nearly installed corroded and brittle rebar into its patch on the shield building after the vessel head swap. NRC inspectors prevented FENOC from cementing the bad rebar in place.

A number of other problems came to light in the inspetion report, including: significant deterioration of the intake/discharge canal into Lake Erie, essential for reactor cooling during routine operations but especially during accident conditions; an un-licensed operator manipulating control rods in the operating reactor core; and a worker who damaged safety-significant equipment by climbing up it, rather than using a ladder, to inspect an elevated valve.

Beyond Nuclear, joined by Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Green Party of Ohio, has challenged FENOC's application for a 20 year license extension at Davis-Besse since Dec., 2010. On Jan. 10, 2012, the environmental coalition launced a new contention before NRC's Atomic Safety (sic) and Licensing Board, based on cracked containment concerns. The ASLB is planning oral hearings in the vicinity of Davis-Besse in the weeks ahead. The coalition is represented by attorney Terry Lodge of Toledo, Ohio.

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