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Published: Tuesday, 4/6/2010

Scientists: Keep Davis-Besse idle Group wants leaks addressed

OAK HARBOR, Ohio - Until FirstEnergy Corp. implements measures to ensure Davis-Besse nuclear plant's reactor does not violate federal health and safety regulations, the Oak Harbor nuclear plant should not be allowed to restart, the Union of Concerned Scientists said.

The science group Monday asked the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to keep Davis-Besse idle until it solves problems with leaking cracks in its reactor. Federal regulations require reactors be shut down immediately whenever such leakage occurs, it noted.

FirstEnergy does not yet have a time line for when Davis-Besse - which was idled Feb. 28 for normal refueling and maintenance - is expected to be repaired and restarted, spokesman Todd Schneider said.

Several of Davis-Besse's 69 control-rod drive mechanism nozzles were found to be cracked or otherwise damaged, and some had leaked. A repair plan is to be submitted to the NRC.

French contractor AREVA has started some repair work, Mr. Schneider said.

Davis-Besse's original head nearly burst in 2002 after FirstEnergy allowed acid from the reactor to build up over six years or more, the NRC has said.

The current head, which came from the Midland 2 nuclear plant in Midland, Mich., had a fraction of the acid leaking out of the reactor core, it said. A new head is not expected to be ready until 2014.

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