Davis-Besse shut down for maintenance

Davis-Besse will undergo maintenace before its license renewal hearing on May 18.

The Davis-Besse nuclear power plant was shut down early Sunday for scheduled refueling and maintenance.

FirstEnergy said while the 908-megawatt unit is off line, 68 of the 177 fuel assemblies will be replaced and numerous safety inspections will be conducted, including inspections of the steam generators. In addition, preventative maintenance will be performed on major components including pumps, valves and the emergency diesel generators and the cooling tower to improve efficiency.

The maintenance comes more than a week before the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board panel listens to oral arguments about whether or not containment cracks discovered at Davis-Besse last year should factor into the renewing of its license.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Comission will use extensive environmental and safety reviews to decide whether or not to renew Davis-Besse's license, according to public affairs officer David McIntyre. The ASLB oral argument hearing plays a role in the NRC's decision, but will not be the sole factor.

Late last year, a 30-foot hairline crack was discovered during the installation of a replacement reactor head. FirstEnergy blamed harsh weather from the Blizzard of 1978 for penetrating the concrete and opening the crack.

Davis-Besse opponents like Beyond Nuclear and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) say the plant is unsafe and should not be allowed to remain open.