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NRC APPROVES SPENT FUEL STORAGE CONTAINER FOR PALISADES NUCLEAR PLANT

 JACKSON, Mich., April 2 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has approved a rule change for certain nuclear fuel storage casks that will allow their use for temporary storage of spent fuel at Consumers Power Company's Palisades nuclear plant near South Haven and other U.S. nuclear plants. The rule change will become effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, which is expected within a week.
 The casks designed by Pacific Sierra Nuclear Associates will serve Palisades' temporary spent fuel storage requirements until federal storage facilities become available. "We would prefer to send the plant's spent fuel to a centralized permanent storage facility operated by the U.S. Department of Energy. But since no such repository has yet been built, this temporary measure is the safest solution available," said David P. Hoffman, Consumers Power's vice president of nuclear operations.
 As soon as the company is satisfied that the proper procedures have been tested in practice, it will begin the actual loading of spent fuel into two of the eight casks already in place at Palisades. Each of the concrete and steel casks has a storage capacity of 24 fuel assemblies. "We are pleased the NRC has given its timely approval in this matter. Otherwise, our customers would be faced with increased costs caused by expensive delays in our scheduled refueling this summer," said Hoffman.
 On March 12, 1990, Consumers Power applied to the NRC for a license to use the VSC-24 ventilated storage casks designed by Pacific Sierra Nuclear. In March 1991 the NRC staff issued a safety evaluation report for the VSC-24 design. The NRC staff also prepared an environmental assessment and a finding of no significant impact with respect to the rulemaking to add the VSC-24 to the list of NRC-approved casks. During its safety review of the cask design, the NRC resolved more than 230 written comments from members of Congress, elected state officials and the public.
 There have been extensive public hearings and input into the safety review process for the storage casks' proposed use at Palisades, beginning with public hearings conducted by the Michigan Legislature in 1989. Additional public involvement included meetings of the Covert Township Board of Trustees in June 1989, September 1990, April 1991 and June 1991. Also, a December 1992 public meeting at the Palisades plant was conducted by the Van Buren County Board of Commissioners with participation by the NRC and a February 1993 public meeting in Lansing was conducted by Michigan's attorney general and the NRC. As a result of the public meeting with the attorney general, an additional 100 comments were received and evaluated by the NRC. The NRC also extended its public comment period another week, and the NRC's response to these public comments will be published in the Federal Register.
 The Palisades nuclear plant is capable of producing 780 megawatts of electricity, enough to serve the electric needs of a community of more than 470,000 people.
 Consumers Power Company, the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy Corporation (NYSE: CMS), is Michigan's largest natural gas and electric utility serving almost 6 million of the state's 9 million residents in 67 of the 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
 -0- 4/2/93
 /CONTACT: Charles E. MacInnis, News and Information, Consumers Power Company, 517-788-0333/
 (CMS)


CO: Consumers Power Company; U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission ST: Michigan IN: OIL UTI SU:

SM -- DE017 -- 2626 04/02/93 15:53 EST
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Date:Apr 2, 1993
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