Update: And the cause of all the problems with Davis-Besse's shield...
Officials with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and FirstEnergy detailed the work that led them to conclude the Blizzard of 1978 — combined with a failure to waterproof the shield building — caused cracking in the structure’s walls.
The Davis-Besse nuclear plant is basically held together with duct tape and gum, which makes the latest update all the less surprising. Over its 35-year history, Davis-Besse has creaked and moaned along, shutting down intermittently for a cracked lid, and then some more cracks, and — whaddya know — some more cracks. Inspectors found another leak this week, a pinhole-sized one, as they were checking out the nuts and bolts as Davis-Besse cranked up toward restarting operations.
Radioactive coolant did not escape the facility, according to reports. But it's another notch on Davis-Besse's spotty reputation. Via the AP:
Workers discovered the leak in a pipe weld Wednesday night as they were getting ready to restart the reactor after a monthlong maintenance shut down. The plant was at full pressure at the time but the reactor was not yet operating, Young said. It's not known exactly when the leak began, but it had been less than 24 hours, she said.
Such leaks are not uncommon, said Viktoria Mitlyng, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. She said nuclear plants go through an extensive startup process after outages to look for problems. The leak Wednesday will be repaired, plant operators said.
Nuclear regulators are expected to decide next year whether to renew the plant's license.
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