PORT CLINTON -- The federal Atomic Safety and Licensing Board will hear oral arguments in two weeks regarding whether shield-building cracks at the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant warrant consideration as a reason to deny the plant's proposed license renewal.
The board, a unit of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, will hear testimony May 18 in a common pleas courtroom at the Ottawa County Courthouse, starting at 9 a.m. and ending by 4:30 p.m., according to an NRC statement.
The issue involves a "contention" filed by four intervenors in the NRC's hearing process for renewing the plant's operating license past its 2017 expiration date.
FirstEnergy Corp., Davis-Besse's owner, has asked for a 20-year extension. Beyond Nuclear, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Green Party of Ohio oppose the renewal and in January, added the shield building cracks to their reasons why it should be denied.
Hairline cracking was discovered in the building, the outer concrete shell around the reactor chamber, also known as the containment building, in early October when a hole was cut through the structure to replace the plant's reactor head.
A FirstEnergy investigation determined the cracks were caused by windblown moisture from the Blizzard of 1978 that froze inside the concrete when temperatures dropped sharply. The utility stated the cracks have been stable since then and do not compromise the building's functions. The intervenors dispute FirstEnergy's findings.
Only lawyers for the intervenors, FirstEnergy, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will be allowed to speak. The public will be allowed to attend, but signs, banners, or other displays will not be allowed into the courtroom.
The courthouse is at 315 Madison St., Port Clinton.