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NRC seeks comment on Ohio nuclear reactor license renewal

March 14 (Reuters) - The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is seeking public comment on a draft report assessing the environmental impacts of extending the operating license for FirstEnergy Corp's Davis-Besse nuclear power plant in Ohio.

In February, the NRC staff said it found no environmental issues that would preclude a 20-year license renewal for the 894-megawatt reactor.

The NRC said it will hold two public meetings on March 25 at a site near the plant and accept comments through April 21.

The renewal of the Davis-Besse operating license is controversial in part because the reactor was the site of what the NRC has called one of the most dangerous nuclear incidents in the United States.

In 2002, workers discovered corrosion had eaten a hole in the plant's reactor vessel head, which kept the unit shut until 2004. Although the hole did not hurt anyone, the NRC fined FirstEnergy more than $5 million for the actions that led to the corrosion.

Davis-Besse is a pressurized-water reactor located approximately 20 miles (32 km) east of Toledo.

The current operating license expires April 22, 2017. FirstEnergy submitted its license renewal application to the NRC on August 27, 2010.

The draft environmental impact statement is a step in the license renewal review process, which proceeds along two tracks - one for safety issues and another for environmental issues.

The NRC staff issued its final safety evaluation report in September 2013 and expects to issue the final supplemental environmental impact statement in September 2014.

The NRC, however, has said it will not make a final licensing decision on any reactor until it completes its waste confidence rule making for the long-term storage of nuclear waste, currently scheduled for September 2014.

The NRC said the date of a final decision on the Davis-Besse license renewal and for all 18 pending reactor license renewals are still to be determined.

For a factbox on U.S. nuclear renewals, see