Do you think that the NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) is always putting safety first over deals with the owners? Then read about the court case against Andrew Siemazsko, the FirstEnergy engineer who "is charged with five counts of lying or withholding information from the government about Davis-Besse in the fall of 2001. The man who was tesfitying yesterday, Samuel J Collins, negotiated a deal with FirstEnergy and didn't put in a shutdown EVEN THOUGH he knew of "massive streaks of rust flowing out of the lid's inspection ports" (See the pic above).
Here's part of the timeline. Collins met with Bob Saunders, who used to be president of First Energy, on Nov 28, 2001. At that point, it was already known about the corrosion in Davis Besse, but, for political reasons, Collins CUT A DEAL with Saunders to keep the plant running six weeks longer. Why? Because it would cost money and FirstEnergy didn't want to get a shutdown order from the NRC. The next outage was supposed to be on March 31, 2002 but on March 8, 2002, THIS came out.
On March 8, 2002, the nuclear industry was rocked by the discovery of a football-shaped cavity, six inches deep, in Davis-Besse's steel reactor head. The cavity exposed a thin liner that had started to crack and buckle.
Laboratory tests later showed the reactor head was weeks, if that, away from bursting and allowing radioactive steam to form, one of the worst scenarios for a nuclear plant.
Samuel Collins, incidentally, STILL holds a position of considerable authority within the NRC, even though he has a photo to remind him how close Ohio came to being a radioactive hellhole.
Mr. Collins is now administrator of the NRC regional office in King of Prussia, Pa., that oversees nuclear plants in the Northeast.
Incidentaly, a reminder that in that same period of time Comanche Peak was also found to have a leak.From Wired in February 2003
Recently, workers found coolant leaks at the Sequoyah 2 plant in Tennessee and the Comanche Peak 1 plant in Texas. Both plants had leaked boric acid, which is an additive in reactor coolant that is highly corrosive to carbon steel.
"There's been a lengthy list of these near-misses," said David Lochbaum, a nuclear safety engineer at the Union of Concerned Scientists. "It's a growing problem. For an aging fleet of nuclear reactors, it's not unexpected."
While there hasn't been a major nuclear accident in the United States in 20 years, the consequences of such an event could be devastating. If safety systems fail, aging reactors could leak radiation, which may contaminate the water supply and cause life-threatening diseases and infections.
Seems that the NRC identified 12 nuclear plants as being susceptible to corrosion or cracking and shut ALL of them down for inspection.... All, except Davis-Besse.
Davis-Besse started leaking boric acid in 1996. Between 1998 and 2000, the leakage began causing problems for other equipment. In 1999, FirstEnergy, the corporation that operates Davis-Besse, found traces of rust particles in the filters of radiation monitors. These filters, which sample the air inside the reactor's containment structure, are normally replaced every two to three months. When the leakage began, the filters had to be replaced every day....
FirstEnergy ignored photographic evidence documenting rust seeping from the reactor head as early as April 2000, Ryder said.
In August, FirstEnergy admitted to NRC investigators that it placed production before public safety by deferring inspections and corrective action programs. FirstEnergy is spending more than $400 million on repairs.
By allowing safety margins to erode, FirstEnergy and the NRC have lost a great deal of the public's trust, Lochbaum said