Nuclear Concerns in Northern Ohio

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OAK HARBOR, Ohio -- Concerned residents showed up by the dozens on Thursday to find out whether a local nuclear power plant is safe. They also learned that a blizzard 34 years ago is to blame for recent problems.

The meeting, which lasted more than three hours, was held at Oak Harbor High School in Ottawa County.

Residents got a chance to hear a presentation and ask questions to find out whether living near the Davis-Besse Nuclear plant, about 90 miles west of Cleveland, is safe.

"We've had blizzards before, every other year since then.  I find it hard to believe that that blizzard caused that.  I have a hard time believing it," said concerned resident Sarah Hanselman.

The latest safety concerns arose last fall when Davis-Besse engineers found small cracks in a concrete shield while trying to replace a reactor head.

The plant was shut down and officials said engineers discovered that the cracks were caused by the intense water, wind and snow from the Blizzard of 1978.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission reviewed the findings and determined that conclusion is a likely scenario.

The plant restarted last December and FirstEnergy officials said the building is safe and the structural integrity has been maintained.

But Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who held a small rally before the meeting, said he is not so sure.

"We're taking steps to ensure the building's not further damaged.  At the end of this week, we'll begin coating it with waterproof sealant that will ensure no further damage is done, then periodically doing inspections of the building," said FirstEnergy spokesperson Todd Schneider.

"They cannot deny that FirstEnergy misrepresented the nature of the cracks, that's a fact, why would they do that? Don't B.S. us, okay, just be honest with us and they're just trying to protect their properties.  I'm here to protect the people and their interests," said Kucinich.

FirstEnergy insists there is no danger to the public.

Officials said starting next week, they will do inspections to make sure the existing cracks have not expanded and that no new cracks have been created.

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