THE BLOG
02/08/2012 02:23 pm ET | Updated Apr 09, 2012

Why Won't FirstEnergy Tell the Truth About Davis-Besse?

When FirstEnergy discovered the cracking in the concrete wall of the aging shield building at the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant and until the public hearing held by the NRC at my request on January 5, 2012, FirstEnergy consistently told the public that the cracks were confined to "architectural elements" or "decorative elements" of the wall. I was skeptical because I had never before heard of a "decorative element" in the walls of a nuclear reactor building. Also the photograph posted on the NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) website seemed to show that the cracks were located along the line of steel reinforcement bars (rebar) of the concrete wall.

On November 20, 2011, I publicly called upon FirstEnergy "to tell the truth about Davis-Besse... to release all the photos, all the test results, and all the reports." I also wrote a letter to Gregory Jaczko, the Chairman of the NRC, requesting that the NRC conduct a public hearing on the issue so that the people in the communities surrounding Davis-Besse could get accurate information about what the situation truly was.

FirstEnergy ignored my request, but Chairman Jaczko did not. He scheduled a public hearing for January 5, 2012. In the interim, I pressed the NRC to provide me with the photos, test results and "core bore" reports that FirstEnergy was concealing from the public.

The NRC allowed my staff to review those documents. The reports showed conclusively that the cracking was not in "architectural" or "decorative" elements of the wall, as FirstEnergy publicly claimed, but ran throughout the line of the main outer rebar.

In fact, the cracking is so extensive that the NRC required FirstEnergy to assume, in its calculations of the strength of the wall, that the vertical outer rebar mat did not even exist.

When FirstEnergy made its presentation at the January 5 public hearing, its site Vice President, Mr. Barry Allen, admitted for the first time that the cracking was located along the line of the main outer rebar. But, Mr. Allen, did not mention FirstEnergy's previous misrepresentations or explain the significance of the new description. When I asked him about this discrepancy, his response was that FirstEnergy's investigation of the cracking had been ongoing, and that FirstEnergy had revealed all new information as it was discovered.

That would be a very appropriate response, if it were true. But, it is not true.

FirstEnergy knew in early October that the cracking was in the area of the main outer rebar. That is shown in the very first photo released by the NRC. Most of the tests that showed that cracking in the line of the main outer rebar were performed before FirstEnergy issued a statement to its shareholders on October 31, 2011 that repeated their misrepresentations. And, even as late as December 29, 2011, the NRC was still repeating this misleading description from FirstEnergy -- "Cracking has been identified primarily in the architectural regions...." ("Q-and-As for Davis-Besse Shield Building Issues," 12/29/11).

Mr. Allen's statement is just one more misrepresentation from FirstEnergy.

At the January 5 public hearing, I repeated my request that FirstEnergy release all the photos, test results and test reports. This time, I made the request directly to Mr. Allen. As of today's date, FirstEnergy has continued to ignore both my request and the public's right to know what the true situation is.

The public deserves more from FirstEnergy. It's time to release all the photos, all the test results, and all the reports. It's time to stop the spin and start full disclosure. Tell the people the truth about Davis-Besse.