Chairman Kucinich Initiates Congressional Oversight Of The Perry Nuclear Power Plant Shutdown And NRC Response
In response to the emergency closure of FirstEnergy's Perry Nuclear Power Plant, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Chairman of the Domestic Policy Subcommittee, sent a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) today requesting a briefing on the findings of its special inspection of the facility.
The NRC was notified in the early morning of Wednesday, Nov. 28 that the Perry Nuclear Power Plant had automatically shut down and that two water cooling pumps malfunctioned and portions of the backup systems failed. The NRC today announced that it would conduct a special inspection of the plant.
Kucinich's letter to the NRC detailed the history of poor management at the plant and requested a briefing a soon as is "reasonably practicable." The NRC has stated that their inspection would be finished in seven days, with a report to follow in 45 days.
"I think the people of Ohio have reason to be concerned about FirstEnergy's record in operating its nuclear power plants. I intend to get answers, to press the NRC to protect the safety to Ohio residents, and to hold FirstEnergy accountable," Kucinich said.
Kucinich's Subcommittee, which is part of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has oversight authority over the NRC. Earlier this year, FirstEnergy tried to escape the final two years of a required independent assessment of its Davis-Besse plant. However, after Kucinich wrote a letter expressing his concerns, FirstEnergy withdrew its request to avoid assessment.
FirstEnergy is the same company that was responsible for a massive power blackout, which forced parts of eight states and part of Canada into darkness in the summer of 2003.
The letter is below:
Mr. Dale E. Klein
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, D.C. 20555
Dear Mr. Klein:
Yesterday, FirstEnergy's Perry nuclear power station experienced an unscheduled automatic shutdown and the failure of multiple equipment systems. Today, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that it would conduct a special inspection at the Perry plant to determine the causes of the shutdown, as well as the equipment failures.
As you know, NRC has over the years uncovered a number of serious management problems at the Perry facility. Namely,
* On September 26, 2002, the NRC Office of Investigations concluded that FENOC's application for access was falsified at Perry;
* On October 6, 2003, the NRC Office of Investigations concluded that overtime records were deliberately falsified at Perry so as to appear to comply with technical specifications; and
* On April 1, 2004, the NRC informed FirstEnergy that it found "creative timekeeping" at the Perry plant.
As you also know, FENOC has exhibited an inclination toward evading oversight. Thus, in March, 2007, I wrote to NRC out of concern that FENOC had requested to be relieved from independent oversight mandated by NRC after a near catastrophe at the Davis-Besse Nuclear facility in 2002. As you know, the mandated independent assessments followed NRC's investigation into FirstEnergy's efforts to deceive the government about safety violations at the Davis-Besse facility that resulted in a football-sized crater in the reactor vessel.
Only a slim steel liner stood in the way of radioactive release into the air, which would have jeopardized the safety of millions of residents of the state of Ohio.
The Oversight and Government Reform Committee is the principal oversight committee of Congress, and the Domestic Policy Subcommittee has broad jurisdiction over many federal agencies, including NRC. I hereby request a briefing from NRC on its special inspection findings as soon as is reasonably practicable.
You may contact Jaron R. Bourke, Staff Director, at (202) 225-6427 to arrange a suitable time.
Dennis J. Kucinich
Domestic Policy Subcommittee