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"Nuclear close calls" at Davis-Besse -- Beyond Nuclear letter to the editor in n. OH's News-Messenger

Nuclear close calls

Davis-Besse’s atomic reactor has had more close calls with radioactive catastrophe than any other in the U.S. Six years ago, we learned its Shield Building was severely cracked.

In 2014, FirstEnergy finally deigned to reveal, after a 2½-year cover-up, that every time it freezes, the cracking grows by a half inch or more in circumferential orientation, around the steel reinforced, cylindrical, concrete containment.

In short, it is doubtful the containment would prevent catastrophic releases of hazardous radioactivity to the environment, if Davis-Besse melts down. The 20-year license extension that began on Earth Day (April 22) 2017 means that risk increases with time.

FirstEnergy has been trolling for a massive ratepayer bailout for several years. In essence, the nuclear lobbyists hope Ohio ratepayers won’t mind if several billion dollars are added to household and business electric bills over coming years to compensate for FirstEnergy’s own mismanagement and bad business decisions. At least exorbitant executive salaries, and shareholder dividends, will be protected.

Regarding the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear plants workforce, and tax revenues generated, it’s past time to begin preparing for the day the reactors close for good.

The dismantlement and radioactivity contamination cleanup during decommissioning mean many of the workers, who know the sites the best, can be retained for many years to come.

So too, considering the need for ongoing management of highly radioactive irradiated nuclear fuel on-site. A just transition, for workers and the host communities, should be a top priority, and FirstEnergy should help fund it. 

Kevin Kamps

Takoma Park, Maryland

Link to letter to the editor published online:

Beyond Nuclear has resisted Davis-Besse's 20-year license extension since 2010, but the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) rubber-stamped it anyways, despite the severe, and ever worsening, cracking of the Shield Building. The cracking has grown so bad that FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC) has begun repair work. During Beyond Nuclear et al.'s legal intervention against Davis-Besse's license extension, FENOC downplayed the risk of cracking, and committed to merely monitor it under its Aging Management Plan. (Beyond Nuclear et al. is represented by Toledo attorney Terry Lodge.) Apparently, that plan was not good enough. Beyond Nuclear stands by its years-long call for Davis-Besse's permanent shutdown, for safety's sake.