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Published: Tuesday, 7/2/2013 - Updated: 2 years ago

Davis-Besse to stay offline for a few weeks

Emergency shutdown of plant caused by a wiring problem

The Davis-Besse nuclear power station in Oak Harbor will remain out of operation for a couple weeks while a wiring problem is fixed. The Davis-Besse nuclear power station in Oak Harbor will remain out of operation for a couple weeks while a wiring problem is fixed.

OAK HARBOR, Ohio — The Davis-Besse nuclear power plant likely will remain out of operation for a couple weeks while repairs related to an emergency shutdown Saturday night continue, FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Corp. reported Monday.

Workers identified a problem with wiring connected to the motor that powers one of the plant’s four reactor-coolant pumps, said Jennifer Young, a FirstEnergy spokesman. She said she did not know what caused the wiring problem.

“That will be a longer investigation. That’s not an answer that I expect we will have quickly,” she said.

Ms. Young said motor testing took place Monday, which will help determine when the plant will restart.

While inspecting the equipment, Ms. Young said workers found another problem to correct. A weld overlay will fix a flaw on a recirculation line that provides lubrication to the seal on the same pump, she said. The recirculation flaw was not a factor in the shutdown.

“It doesn’t present any safety issues or challenges. We’ll want to make sure it’s fixed before we start the plant back up,” Ms. Young said.

Electricity customers should see no impact from the plant’s temporary closure, she said.

On-site resident inspectors from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission are following the progress made by the Ottawa County plant’s operators, said NRC spokesman Prema Chandrathil. How the agency responds, including any potential violation, depends on what further inspection reveals, she said.

FirstEnergy has an application pending for a 20-year license renewal for the plant, which began operation in 1977. Its current license expires in 2017, and the license extension has been opposed by some organizations, including Maryland-based advocacy group Beyond Nuclear.

During a 2011 shutdown for plant maintenance and replacement of a reactor head, hairline cracks were discovered in its concrete Shield Building. The plant reopened after about two months, and investigators blamed wind-driven moisture during the Blizzard of 1978 for the cracking, which they said was not an on-going problem and could be managed.

Kevin Kamps, a radioactive-waste specialist for Beyond Nuclear, said the most recent incident is another worry.

“A lot of plants have problems, but often times it’s a single problem a plant will have ...,” he said. “But for Davis-Besse, they have just a whole long list of problems, and that’s what concerns us too —that those might line up one day in a very bad way.”

Contact Vanessa McCray at:vmccray@theblade.com,419-724-6065, or onTwitter @vanmccray.

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