CLEVELAND Federal regulators are investigating whether the owner of a nuclear plant where acid nearly ate through a 6-inch-thick steel reactor cap had altered records about the damage, the company says.
FirstEnergy Corp. spokesman Todd Schneider said Friday the utility was cooperating with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission but would not provide details of the investigation at the Davis-Besse plant near Toledo.
"Allegations of altered documents and records are part of this investigation," Schneider said.
The plant has been shut down since engineers discovered in March that boric acid had nearly eaten through the steel cap on the reactor vessel. It was the most extensive corrosion ever found on a U.S. nuclear reactor and led to a nationwide review of all 69 similar plants.
A second, smaller hole was found later at Davis-Besse.
The NRC has been investigating the corrosion and has said the leak that caused it should have been spotted as many as four years ago.
Agency spokesman Jan Strasma would not say Friday whether officials were investigating whether FirstEnergy altered records.
A coalition of 14 environmental and nuclear watchdog groups is urging the NRC to order an independent review of the plant.
Coalition spokesman David Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer with the Union
of Concerned Scientists, said he was told by investigators that the NRC is
investigating whether FirstEnergy backdated videotapes, falsified documents and
withheld a photograph to make damaged to the reactor lid seem less severe than
it actually was.
Workers removed the damaged reactor head Thursday and were to begin installing a replacement. The plant is expected to be operational by October, Schneider said.
The coalition wants the NRC to delay the plant's restart until the agency finishes its investigation.
Copyright 2002 The Associated Press