Coalition reveals that FirstEnergy concealed damaging water saturation of cracked Shield Building walls for two years
On September 8, 2014, environmental coalition attorney Terry Lodge filed a supplement/amendment to a contention regarding FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company's (FENOC) severely cracked Shield Building at its problem-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor.
To the ice-wedging crack propagation contention filed a week earlier (see entry immediately below), the coalition has added evidence that FENOC knew about damaging water saturation of the Shield Building walls in 2012, but did not divulge the information until July 8, 2014.
Remarkably, the whitewash applied (40 years too late) to the Shield Building's exterior face has blocked the water in the walls from exiting. Damaging water has built up behind it, as if behind a dam. FENOC has admitted that the exterior wall, to a depth of 10 inches, is saturated at 90 to 100% relative humidity.
FENOC has now acknowledged that this water causes ice-wedging crack propagation. Every time it freezes (some tens of times per year at Davis-Besse's Lake Erie shoreline location, in northern Ohio), the sub-surface, laminar cracking at the outer rebar mat grows by 0.4 to 0.7 inches! FENOC admits that in just a two year period, one crack grew by more than 10 inches altogether!
The contention supplement focuses on an 80 page document prepared by contractor Performance Improvement International (PII), entitled Enclosure 2: Full Apparent Cause Evaluation (FACE, see page 18 to 98).
Ironically enough, PII also figured prominently in the "Snow Job of 2012" -- the root cause theory that the Blizzard of 1978 caused the Shield Building wall cracking discovered in October, 2011. At that time, both PII and FENOC claimed that the cracking had occurred over a few days period of time, some 34 years earlier, but hadn't gotten worse since. Both NRC and its licensing board bought the "Snow Job," thereby blocking environmental intervenors' multiple cracking-related contentions as out of scope in the License Renewal Application (LRA) proceeding, as not aging-related.
PII's and FENOC's "Snow Job" also blinded them to the risks of the August-October 2012 "whitewash" of the Shield Building exterior -- the application of a weather sealant, 40 years too late. Ironically enough, as intervenors warned in 2012, the whitewash has locked the water in the walls, where it has caused ice-wedging crack propagation ever since.
In August-September, 2013, FENOC discovered previously undetected cracks, as well as unexpected crack propagation. This led to PII's September 11, 2013 FACE -- a document FENOC, inexplicably, did not release until a full ten months later, on July 8, 2014.
Thus, the Shield Building cracking propagation is clearly aging-related. The environmental coalition's contention deserves a hearing on the merits.
The coalition includes Beyond Nuclear, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Green Party of Ohio. The coalition launched an intervention against FENOC's LRA on Dec. 27, 2010.