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$5.45 MILLION FINE LEVIED IN N-PLANT SAFETY GLITCH

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission proposed a record $5.45 million fine Thursday against the operator of a nuclear plant where leaking acid ate nearly all the way through a 6-inch-thick steel cap on the reactor vessel.

The commission said FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co., based in Akron, restarted the Davis-Besse plant in 2000 without completing a cleaning and inspection of the reactor vessel head, then misled the agency about it.

The leaking boric acid was found two years later during a routine inspection -- the most extensive corrosion ever seen at a U.S. nuclear reactor.

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