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Published: Saturday, 1/3/2004

NRC postpones meeting on Davis-Besse

OAK HARBOR, Ohio - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission s oversight panel meeting for Davis-Besse s nuclear plant has been postponed.

Slated for Jan. 13, the meeting likely will be pushed back a week or more. The NRC wants to use the meeting to talk about a weeklong inspection that will begin Jan. 12. The makeup date will be posted on the NRC s Web site.

Davis-Besse has been idle since Feb. 16, 2002, because of numerous equipment and management issues, with NRC officials citing several concerns about the performance and training of plant operators in recent weeks.

Another issue pertaining to plant operators arose this week. Employees failed to follow 72-hour procedures for documenting the fact that a containment coolant water system valve had been taken out of service Tuesday, Victoria Mitlyng, NRC spokesman, said.

Although the NRC recognizes that latest episode as a procedural error with little or no significance on public safety, the oversight panel will review it in the broader context of operator performance while reconsidering issues cited Dec. 19 by one of the agency s inspection teams. “It s not a safety issue. It s procedural compliance. The panel will look at it,” she said.

FirstEnergy Corp. acted responsibly by identifying the valve-reporting problem and bringing it to the NRC s attention, she said.

The utility had temporarily put its nonnuclear heat-up of the reactor on hold for several days, pending a meeting yesterday in which FirstEnergy s own officials updated each other internally about restart activities, Richard Wilkins, company spokesman, said.

Last night, the reactor s temperature was 297 degrees and climbing gradually with heat being drawn from reactor pumps, he said.

The reactor s temperature in Mode 3 of the heat-up process cannot exceed 530 degrees without NRC approval, an inspector said.

For earlier stories on Davis-Besse, go to www.toledoblade.com/davisbesse

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