Davis-Besse back to work after refueling outage, leak

Davis-Besse went back online Wednesday after a month-long refueling outage.

Davis-Besse Nuclear Plant returned to service early Wednesday following a May 6 shutdown for refueling and maintenance.

The 908-megawatt Davis-Besse unit began producing electricity at 3:37 a.m. and is currently operating at about 30 percent power, FirstEnergy reports.

While a leak was discovered at the nuclear plant last Thursday, First-Energy spokesman Todd Schneider said crews fixed it over the weekend.

"It's under control, if there's a leak, we certainly know there's one by watching monitors in the plant," he said. "But we've made a permanent repair so it should not be an issue any longer."

Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesperson Viktoria Mitlyng said plant workers found the leak in a pipe in the plant's coolant system, which keeps radiation inside. She said the leak was very small and may not have been picked up by the monitoring system, but since workers were able to get close to the pipe while it was shutdown, they were able to spot the leak.

"We have inspectors on site who have been monitoring this process and the plantâ??s actions. There's some questions out there that have to be answered: Why did it occur, could it have been prevented? We are looking for the plant to answer these questions and we will evaluate these independently. If there are any issues of concern, we will put out a report." she said.

Mitlyng said the leak was not a threat to the public or the plant's safety.

After a 30-foot hairline crack was found in the plant's shield building last year, watchdog groups and concerned citizens have petitioned FirstEnergy to shut down the 34-year-old nuclear plant.

The NRC reached a conclusion last month that the plant's shield building could fulfill its safety function, despite the cracks. However, the NRC's root cause analysis report is still pending and should be released in the next couple of weeks.

View: NRC Davis-Besse Operability Report

"The NRC's view is that even though the shield building is safe to operate, it does not meet the original licensing basis because it does not consider laminar cracking," Mitlyng wrote in an email to WNWO last month. "The report says that FirstEnergy will have to revise the engineering calculations to come in conformance with the design basis. Even though FirstEnergy initially concluded that the building was in conformance with the design and licensing bases, they ultimately agreed with the NRC's assessment."

FirstEnergy said the inspections of the shield building last month revealed that the tight cracks in the building's wall do not appear to have grown, nor were new cracks identified.

The company says preventative maintenance and improvement projects were completed during the refueling outage that are "designed to promote continued safe and reliable operations."

Do you think FirstEnergy has done enough to maintain the safety of Davis-Besse since the crack was discovered last year? Should the plant be allowed to stay online? Weigh in below.