Davis-Besse management submits root cause analysis report to NRC

Aug. 15, 2002 — FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co. (FENOC) on Thursday sent the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) its Root Cause Analysis Report, which addresses management and organizational issues that contributed to the corrosion problem on the reactor head at Davis-Besse.

The report, authored by a team of nuclear experts commissioned by FENOC management, focuses on nuclear safety and human performance issues, as part of the plant’s program to improve performance and earn approval of the NRC for restarting operations.

Recommendations from the team include adhering strictly to industry performance standards, improving program implementation, increasing effectiveness in making corrective actions, and enhancing management oversight.

“Addressing the management and human performance issues identified in this root cause report is as important as the actual restoration of the reactor head,” said Lew W. Myers, FENOC Chief Operating Officer, who will review the report’s findings in Thursday’s NRC public meeting.

Team members include three outside experts in root cause analysis — two from Conger & Elsea and one from ENERCON — as well as two experienced nuclear professionals from the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station, two from the Perry Nuclear Power Plant and several from Davis-Besse. Team members have expertise in nuclear engineering, quality assurance, engineering and root cause analysis, event investigation and assessment of corrective action programs.

“The team operated independently in fulfilling their mission — to give us a frank and objective perspective on what led to this problem and solid recommendations for improving our performance,” Myers said.

Human performance factors cited in the report included missed opportunities for earlier detection and prevention of the problem. The report states, among other things, that plant management and personnel:

* Did an inadequate job of implementing the Corrective Action Program, which is designed to quickly identify and resolve problems like those leading to the corrosion

* Did not integrate key industry information and site knowledge and experience, nor adequately compare new information with baseline knowledge

* Failed to comply with the plant’s existing Boric Acid Corrosion Control program

* Failed to maintain the proper balance between electricity generation and nuclear safety goals

Other observations by the team include improving training for those conducting boric acid inspections, increasing management involvement and oversight of field activities, and realigning the incentive pay program to increase emphasis on safety.

The report also lists a number of corrective actions, many of which already have been implemented. Recommendations include:

* Improving managers’ performance at Davis-Besse — extensive changes in the officers, directors and managers responsible for the plant already have been made

* Revising the Boric Acid Corrosion Control program

* Improving implementation of the Corrective Action Program to meet current industry standards and provide for review by outside experts

While the Root Cause Analysis Report is under review by the NRC, Davis- Besse personnel and industry experts continue to implement the plan to replace the reactor vessel head and resolve management issues.

Davis-Besse is owned by Akron, Ohio-based FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE – News), and operated by its subsidiary FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company. FirstEnergy is a registered public utility holding company.

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