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PHILADELPHIA ELECTRIC PRESIDENT SAYS CHANGES NEEDED TO ASSURE FUTURE OF NUCLEAR POWER

 PHILADELPHIA ELECTRIC PRESIDENT SAYS
 CHANGES NEEDED TO ASSURE FUTURE OF NUCLEAR POWER
 LAS VEGAS, Nev., April 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Corbin A. McNeill Jr., Philadelphia Electric Co. (NYSE: PE) president and chief operating officer, said today that three major steps need to be taken to assure the future of nuclear power in the United States.
 In the luncheon address at the International High-Level Radioactive Waste Conference, McNeill said the licensing procedure for new plants must be reformed "so that it doesn't take a decade to build new nuclear plants"; a standard design must be developed by government and industry; and there must a safe method to dispose of high-level radioactive nuclear waste.
 There are currently 112 nuclear power plants operating in the United States, generating about 20 percent of the nation's electricity. However, no new plants are under construction and none has been ordered since 1978.
 McNeill said, "There are those who draw the conclusion that the days of nuclear power in the United States are numbered. That as today's plants age and are decommissioned, no new plants will be available to take their place. I am here today to tell you that as a nation we cannot allow that to happen."
 "We must maintain the capability to build new nuclear power plants," McNeill said. "According to various projections, U.S. utilities must construct between 82,000 and 152,000 megawatts of new generating capacity by the turn of the century to meet increased electricity demand."
 He noted that the last several plants built in the United States took an average of 14 years to build and license. PE's two nuclear power units in Limerick, Pa., were first proposed in 1969, but were not completed until 1989.
 "Regulatory stability is the bedrock for the future of nuclear energy," McNeill said. "We must have a licensing process that presents opportunities to resolve safety issues in an open, public forum before the start of construction.
 "Licensing decisions, once made, should not again be subject to an adversarial hearing process of unlimited scope once the plant has been built and is seeking operational approval," he said.
 Another critical step requires that government and industry work together to develop a standard reactor design. McNeill noted that "significant strides" are being made in this area and that a standard design is currently used in several countries.
 The third issue industry and government must resolve is the disposal of high-level radioactive waste, which results from the spent fuel in the nuclear reactor. The Department of Energy (DOE) is currently conducting detailed studies of Yucca Mountain in Nevada for possible storage of spent fuel.
 "The DOE's plan for Yucca Mountain is impressive," McNeill said. "At work are more than 500 scientists, whose research will cost $4 billion."
 The Yucca Mountain research involves the examination of the effect of volcanoes, earthquakes, and the amount of time it takes ground water to percolate through the mountain.
 McNeill noted that there is a long-standing body of scientific opinion that the safest method for long-term storage of high-level radioactive waste is burial in geological isolation.
 He added that the state of Nevada took a "positive step" when it issued the first three environmental permits required to examine Yucca Mountain as a possible storage site.
 "Nuclear waste disposal is a serious business. It demands careful, methodical study and treatment. There are no quick and easy answers. The process for evaluating a site should be deliberate and careful," he said.
 McNeill was elected PE president and COO in April 1990, two years after joining the company from Public Service Electric & Gas Co. PE is the nation's third largest nuclear power operator, and it is among the top 15 utilities in the United States.
 McNeill is a director of the Nuclear Utility Management Resources Council (NUMARC); the United States Council for Energy Awareness (USCEA); and other industry and civic organizations.
 /delval/
 -0- 4/15/92
 /CONTACT: Michael Wood of Philadelphia Electric, 215-841-4125/
 (PE) CO: Philadelphia Electric Company ST: Pennsylvania IN: UTI SU:


LJ -- PH041 -- 8896 04/15/92 16:19 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 15, 1992
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