[ RadSafe ] Two Employees and a Contractor Indicted for Making False Statements to NRC

EASlavin at aol.com EASlavin at aol.com
Sat Jan 21 15:16:49 CST 2006

Good afternoon:
What do y'all reckon?  
Ed Slavin

(202) 514-2007
TDD (202) 514-1888

Firstenergy Nuclear Operating Company to Pay $28 Million 
Relating to Operation of Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station

Two Employees and a Contractor Indicted for Making False Statements to the 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC), has 
agreed to pay $28 million in penalties, restitution, and community service 
projects as part of an agreement to defer prosecution of the company, the Justice 
Department announced today. Under the terms of the deferred prosecution 
agreement, FENOC admits that the government can prove that its employees, acting on 
its behalf, knowingly made false representations to the Nuclear Regulatory 
Commission (NRC) in the course of attempting to persuade the NRC that its 
Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station was safe to operate beyond December 31, 2001. Prasoon 
Goyal, a design engineer, also accepted and entered into a deferred 
prosecution agreement with the government.

In addition to these agreements, two former employees and one former 
contractor of FENOC were charged in a five-count indictment for allegedly preparing 
and providing false statements to the NRC. It is alleged that David Geisen, 
Andrew Siemaszko, and Rodney Cook falsely represented to the NRC that past 
inspections of the plant were adequate to assure safe operation until February or 
March of 2002. "By misleading the NRC about its prior safety inspections, FENOC 
failed to meet its regulatory obligations and violated the public's trust," 
said Assistant Attorney General Sue Ellen Wooldridge for the Justice Department´s 
Environmental and Natural Resources Division.  "The deferred prosecution 
agreement entered today involves a full admission of responsibility by FENOC and 
includes a financial penalty that reflects the revenue that FENOC realized by 
misleading the NRC and delaying required safety inspections at the Davis-Besse 
facility."  "This has been a long and difficult investigation," said U.S. 
Attorney Gregory A. White for the Northern District of Ohio. "I want to thank the 
Office of Investigations of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for their hard 
work and dedication. I hope and trust that the honest assessment of 
responsibility and the remedial actions taken by both FENOC and the NRC will result in a 
nuclear industry that is safer and more productive. In order to achieve that 
goal, everyone must take appropriate action to ensure that submissions to the 
NRC, upon which they make crucial safety discussions, are accurate and complete 
in all respects."

FENOC owns and operates the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station, which is 
located on the southwestern shore of Lake Erie, near Oak Harbor, Ohio. To produce 
energy, the plant utilizes pressurized water reactors (PWRs) to heat water to â
‰ˆ600 degrees Fahrenheit through the process of nuclear fission. At that 
temperature, the reactor coolant water-which is sealed inside a reactor pressure 
vessel-reaches a pressure of ≈2000 pounds per square inch (psi). The reactor 
coolant is then used to super-heat steam to drive turbines that generate 

Reactor operators use two systems to control the rate of fission. First, they 
can raise or lower vertical control rods in the reactor core to absorb the 
neutrons that drive the reaction. The machinery that raises and lowers the 
control rods is attached to the reactor vessel head (lid) of the reactor pressure 
vessel. Nozzles pierce the dome shaped head and the control rods are raised and 
lowered through those nozzles. Secondly, for fine fission and reactor power 
control, operators also added (or removed) boric acid from the reactor coolant 
water. Like the control rods, the boric acid also absorbed neutrons. The 
Davis-Besse reactor vessel head had 69 nozzles.

In the 1990´s, some PWR´s in power plants, like Davis-Besse, started to 
develop cracks where the nozzles were welded to the reactor vessel head. This 
cracking could lead to breaks where control rod nozzles penetrated the steel-walled 
vessel that contained the nuclear fuel and the pressurized reactor coolant 
water, resulting in a potentially serious accident that would stress the plants´ 
safety systems. Engineers predict that a broken nozzle, propelled by reactor 
coolant at 2000 psi, would violently launch itself out of the reactor vessel 
head, leaving a hole through which reactor coolant would escape into the 
containment building.

In August 2001, following reports of nozzle cracks, the NRC issued Bulletin 
2001-01, requiring PWR operators to report on their plant´s susceptibility to 
cracking, the steps they had taken to detect it, and their plans for addressing 
the problem in the future. Any licensee that did not plan to inspect the 
reactor vessel head for signs of cracking by December 31, 2001 was required to 
justify operation beyond that date.

In the months following the issuance of Bulletin 2001-01, FENOC submitted 
five letters to the NRC, arguing that its past inspections were adequate to 
assure safe operation until February or March 2002, at which time the plant had a 
prescheduled shut-down. The indictment charges that in order to persuade the 
NRC that their plant was safe to operate until the prescheduled shutdown, FENOC 
engineers and contractors-including Geisen, Siemaszko, and Cook-presented 
false information in its submissions to the NRC. The indictment further charges 
that the defendants prepared and submitted false and misleading responses to the 
NRC´s bulletin and concealed material information, eventually persuading the 
NRC that Davis-Besse was safe to continue operation until February 15, 2002.

Upon the scheduled shutdown in March 2002, workers discovered a 
pineapple-sized cavity in the head of the reactor vessel at Davis-Besse. Subsequent 
analysis showed that this hole was the result of corrosive reactor coolant leaking 
through a nozzle crack.

In addition to alleging false and misleading statements to the NRC, the 
indictment alleges that Geisen, Siemaszko, and Cook lied about the extent of 
inspections done in 1996, 1998, and 2000. Specifically, the indictment alleges that 
the defendants lied by writing:

That Davis-Besse engineers were able to inspect areas of the reactor vessel 
head that could not, in fact, be inspected; and That Davis-Besse engineers had 
completed boric acid corrosion control procedures that had not been completed.

Two of the defendants, Geisen and Siemaszko, are also charged with providing 
the NRC with photographs bearing captions that falsely indicate generally good 
conditions for visual inspections.

As a result of the deferred prosecution agreement, FENOC will pay more than 
$23 million in fines and will spend an additional $4.3 million on community 
service projects. These projects include a wetlands restoration project at the 
Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge ($800,000) and improvements to the Visitors 
Center ($550,000); a communications systems upgrade for the Ottawa County 
Emergency Management Association ($500,000); a project aimed at developing energy 
efficient technologies at the University of Toledo, College of Engineering 
($500,000); a project to extend the Towpath Trail at the Cuyahoga Valley National 
Park ($1,000,000); and a project for the Northern Ohio Chapter of Habitat for 
Humanity for the construction of EPA Energy Star certified homes ($1,000,000).

The investigation and prosecution are being conducted jointly by the 
Environmental Crimes Section of the Justice Department and by the U.S. Attorney´s 
Office for the Northern District of Ohio, as well as the NRC Office of 
Investigations. Special agents of the NRC´s Office of Investigations and a Senior Reactor 
Inspector from NRC´s Region III ably developed the case and referred it to 
the Department of Justice. The charges contained in the indictment are merely 
accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven 

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