FirstEnergy has announced that it now hopes to be able to restart Davis Besse early in 2003, a slippage from its original schedule which had a target date of 4 December.

First Energy said: “This change in schedule is designed to ensure that related work is completed in accordance with all applicable requirements, with the continued understanding that restart is subject to NRC review and approval.” FirstEnergy has also said that the recovery work and the head replacement would cost about two to three times previous estimates. Earlier this year, FirstEnergy estimated these costs at $50-70 million. It now estimates that $115 million will be required. Cost projections for the replacement of the reactor pressure vessel head remained at $55-75 million.

FirstEnergy said that delay in restoring the containment was a result of issues involving the polar crane. Senior management had stopped work because it was not satisfied with the quality of work that had been done. The general experience is that plants returning from such outages often experience schedule slippage, either because new tasks emerge as a result of inspections and tests, or because the work takes longer than expected.

New potential problems have occurred as NRC released two condition reports submitted by FirstEnergy indicating previously unknown damage to the reactor pressure vessel head. One report described lateral cracks in control rod drive mechanism three and a partial circumferential crack around the welded area on the lower part of the nozzle. The second report said that the Davis Besse cladding was thinner than originally thought, and also had a small series of cracks spanning about 3/8″.

The crack in the alloy weld material from nozzle three could have important implications if it proved to be evidence of a leak path that had not yet been considered.

FirstEnergy has announced that it has made a number of personnel changes at Davis Besse. FirstEnergy spokesman Todd Schneider said that steps had been taken ranging from “no action to negative evaluations, demotions, transfers, and some separations from the company.” He refused to say how many workers were affected.