An analysis by FirstEnergy into what caused cracking in a concrete shield building at the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station is scheduled to be completed by the end of February, a spokesperson for the utility said, adding FirstEnergy is moving ahead with its application to extend the facility’s operating license.
The power station was shut down as scheduled in October to install a new reactor head when cracks were found in the shield building while workers were cutting into the building to remove the old reactor head.
A team of Davis-Besse personnel and outside contractors has been conducting the analysis, said Jennifer Young, of FirstEnergy.
The plant resumed operations in December after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission determined the cracks don’t pose a safety problem while the plant is on-line. NRC inspectors have been working with the Davis-Besse team, Young said.
The building is made of 2 ½ -foot-thick reinforced concrete and is designed to protect the steel containment vessel that houses the station’s reactor.
A coalition of environmental groups last week filed briefs with the Atomic Safety Licensing Board supporting their challenge to the request by FirstEnergy for extending the station’s operating license.
The coalition contends FirstEnergy – with the complicity of NRC staff – kept the extent of the cracks from the public until pressured by Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who then pressed the NRC for a public meeting to discuss the issue.
The NRC held a public forum last month after allowing the power station to resume operations even though the causes of the cracking are unknown.
NRC officials told those in attendance at the Camp Perry Conference Center that on-going monitoring of the cracks would alert those conducting the analysis if the problem worsened.
In its filings defending its attempt to intervene in the case, the coalition questions the adequacy of an environmental report for the power station in light of the cracking problem.
“Intervenors motion is very timely,” the motion says. “It identifies a new and, presently at least, continuing deficiency in that the Environmental Report omits to identify and discuss the cracks and their environmental implications.”
The plant’s license is set to expire in 2017 and FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co, is applying to have extended another 20 years.
The coalition accuses FENOC of trivializing “unprecedented problems at Davis-Besse” and contends the license renewal application “has not yet caught up to the reality being documented at the plant.”
Young said FirstEnergy is “responding to questions raised by outside parties and working closely with the regulator on inspections, assessments, and other information required in the renewal process.”
The coalition includes the groups Beyond Nuclear, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don’t Waste Michigan, and the Green Party of Ohio.