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Published: Wednesday, 7/24/2013

Board hears challenge to Davis-Besse’s future plans


A federal board expects to rule next month on environmental groups’ request for a public hearing on the replacement of steam generators at the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board on Wednesday heard oral arguments via telephone from attorneys representing plant operator FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Corp. and four environmental groups that have called for a hearing on the company’s plans to replace steam generators at the Ottawa County plant.

The replacements are scheduled to take place next year during a refueling outage. The environmental groups contend the new equipment differs significantly from existing equipment and poses safety hazards.

“We need for FirstEnergy to prove that these new steam generators are safe,” said Kevin Kamps, a radioactive-waste specialist for Beyond Nuclear, one of the environmental groups seeking to intervene.

Mr. Kamps, in an interview after the roughly 90-minute oral arguments, called for “an open, transparent process.”

FirstEnergy contends the request for a hearing should not be granted.

“Questions or challenges to the steam generator replacement should be raised with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff, not the Atomic Safety [and] Licensing Board,” FirstEnergy spokesman Jennifer Young said in a written statement.

Several of the environmental groups involved in the steam-generator issue also have contested FirstEnergy’s application to renew Davis-Besse’s license, which expires in 2017.

Paul Ryerson, one of three administrative judges on the licensing board, said it will review transcripts of the oral arguments and issue a written decision sometime in August.

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