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BERWICK NUCLEAR PLAN EXERCISE CANCELLED

 BERWICK NUCLEAR PLAN EXERCISE CANCELLED
 HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- The Nuclear Regulatory


Commission (NRC) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have agreed to cancel a planned federal field exercise in February at the Susquehanna Steam Electric Station near Berwick in Luzerne County because of high resource demands on FEMA in responding to recent natural disasters throughout the country.
 The NRC and FEMA are sponsors of the federal exercise which would have involved about 2000 people from federal agencies, state and local governments, the Pennsylvania Power and Light Company, and nuclear insurance representatives.
 "We are disappointed that the exercise will not take place as planned," said Pennsylvania Emergency Management Director Joseph L. LaFleur. "However, we understand that FEMA and other essential federal emergency response entities are substantially committed to real world disaster response and recovery efforts in southern Florida, Louisiana, Hawaii and elsewhere around the world."
 FEMA informed the NRC Oct. 16 that it would be unable to participate in the exercise because of the severe workload and resource burdens at FEMA due to multiple recent natural disasters. After considering the possibility of reduced FEMA participation in the exercise, the decision was made to cancel.
 A decision on when and where to conduct a subsequent Federal Field Exercise will be made at a later date.
 According to LaFleur, an executive contingent from PEMA traveled to Dade County in early October at FEMA's invitation to observe the federal response to Hurricane Andrew.
 "The magnitude and severity of the destruction and the state and federal government response is unprecedented," LaFleur said. "Exercises like the federal field exercise are conducted to review our plans, improve our capabilities and train our staffs so that government's response to a disaster, be it another accident like Three Mile Island or a hurricane, is conducted in a timely and predictable manner.
 "Everything we do within the emergency management program at the local, county, state and federal level is designed to protect public health and safety. Government's response to any disaster, especially one of record proportions, must always take precedence over an exercise," LaFleur said.
 While the federal field exercise will not be conducted in Luzerne County in February, federal regulations still require that a radiological emergency preparedness exercise be held at the Susquehanna Steam Electric Station with state, county and municipal government participation.
 "We will be conducting a nuclear power plant exercise with the Pennsylvania Power and Light Company, Luzerne and Columbia counties with their affected municipalities," LaFleur said, "however, the federal government will participate only as evaluators, not as players."
 LaFleur said that while the federal field exercise will not be held, the extensive coordination among a dozen federal and state agencies in preparation for the exercise will benefit all 27 Pennsylvania counties involved in nuclear power plant safety planning.
 This was to be the third federal field exercise conducted at nuclear plants in the U.S. The other two were held at the St. Lucie plant in Florida in 1984 and the Zion plant in Illinois in 1987.
 LaFleur recognized the county commissioners and emergency management staffs in Columbia and Luzerne County and the 25 support and ingestion counties for their willingness to accept the challange of a major federal exercise.
 /delval/
 -0- 10/22/92
 /CONTACT: John Comey, press secretary of the Emergency Management Agency 717-787-1822/ CO: Emergency Management Agency ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU:


JS -- PH047 -- 3893 10/22/92 17:46 EDT
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Date:Oct 22, 1992
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