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Published: Thursday, 4/15/2004

FirstEnergy is cited over facility east of Cleveland


PERRY, Ohio - Days after getting its Davis-Besse nuclear plant running consistently again following a two-year hiatus, FirstEnergy Corp. has been cited for not being inquisitive enough and for failing to adhere to procedures at its other nuclear plant in Ohio.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission yesterday said FirstEnergy's Perry 1 facility, east of Cleveland, will be subjected to more inspections, even though the site did not have an incident that endangered the public.

The NRC said it was not satisfied by the utility's evaluations of safety equipment and the company's failure to follow its emergency plan by declaring an alert soon after realizing a spent fuel assembly had been damaged. The latter resulted in higher radiation inside the plant's fuel storage area, the NRC said.

Although the issues were classified as low to moderate in terms of safety significance, the NRC said they have prompted heightened oversight at the facility.

The agency has said Davis-Besse could remain under heightened oversight for years after the 2002 discovery of a near-hole in the reactor head of that plant, 30 miles east of Toledo. The problem eventually was described by NRC officials as the nation's worst safety failure since the Three Mile Island meltdown that began March 28, 1979.

Numerous other safety-related design, equipment, performance, workplace atmosphere, and management issues were revealed during Davis-Besse's outage, which ended March 8. The plant took nearly a month slowly ascending in power and having multiple tests done under close NRC scrutiny.

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