Markey Queries NRC on Returning Shut-down Reactor to Active Status; Reactor Had Hole in Reactor, Hit by Tornado, Now with 30 Foot Crack Discovered in Containment Structure

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Davis Besse nuclear facility that serves Cleveland, Toledo and other areas of Ohio was shut down years ago because of a hole discovered in a reactor. Now, a newly discovered 30-foot crack in the containment structure intended to protect the reactors from tornados and other potential threats raises new questions about whether the reactor should ever be allowed to return to active status, according to a letter sent today by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

“When a nuclear power plant that had a reactor with a hole in its head now has a 30 foot crack in its side, it is time to question whether the plant and the reactor are safe to operate,” said Rep. Markey, the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee and a senior member on the Energy and Commerce Committee. “This large crack in a critical containment structure is yet another chink in the armor for the nuclear industry’s sweeping claims of complete safety.”

Markey’s letter to the NRC can be found HERE .

The Davis Besse plant has experienced multiple problems during the last 20 years, including a close call in 2002 when a hole was discovered at the top of one reactor that nearly breached the pressurized reactor chamber. Problems with replacements to that reactor have caused subsequent shut-downs of the reactor. The crack in the containment dome was discovered during activities to replace the pressure chamber head.

The containment dome serves to protect a nuclear plant in the event of a tornado, earthquake, airplane strike or other event. In June of 1998, the plant was struck by an F2 strength tornado.