Davis Besse Nuclear Plant

The Davis-Besse Plant, outside Toledo, is one of two commercial nuclear power plants in Ohio (the other is the Perry plant, near Cleveland). Davis-Besse has been shut down for technical problems a few times since going on line in 1977. When it was shut down in February 2002 for refueling, operators discovered that boric acid had been dripping on the top of the reactor head, and had eaten away about 70 pounds of steel. The six inch deep hole - in the shell that holds the coolant layer around the reactor core -  was 3/8 of an inch from going all the way through, which, should it have ruptured due to the one ton per square inch pressure inside, would have produced a potentially catastrophic accident. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission demanded that the plant be closed until FirstEnergy Corporation could complete all mandated repairs, a process which took two years. Subsequently the NRC imposed a fine of more than $5 million for negligence (its largest fine ever), in addition to $28 million in fines levied by the U.S. Department of Justice. The plant re-opened in March of 2004.