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TROJAN CLOSED; OREGON UTILITY'S DECISION IS LIKELY BELLWETHER FOR AGING NUCLEAR PLANTS

 WASHINGTON, Jan. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- The Safe Energy Communication Council (SECC) today applauded Portland General Electric's (PGE) decision to close the 1,080-megawatt Trojan nuclear reactor at Rainier, Ore., as a prudent safety move and the only sound economic alternative.
 Trojan, 17 years old and Oregon's only nuclear reactor, has been plagued with safety problems and skyrocketing maintenance costs as the plant prematurely aged. The reactor's fate was sealed by recent Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) concerns that a number of steam tubes had cracked and would require replacement; the utility had earlier discovered that all four of the unit's steam generators needed to be replaced at a cost to ratepayers of $200 million.
 "Trojan's early grave is not an isolated experience," said Scott Denman, SECC executive director. "Premature aging is likely to derail the nuclear industry's campaign to extend the licenses of many of the 108 remaining operating reactors in the U.S.," he said.
 PGE is the third nuclear licensee in a year to terminate a reactor before the end of its scheduled life cycle. In each case, utility owners cited the prohibitive costs of maintaining adequate margins of safety as reasons for premature closure.
 In January 1992, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric ordered the closure of their San Onofre Unit 1 nuclear power plant in San Clemente, Calif., by 1993. In February 1992, Yankee Atomic Electric Company decided not to restart its Yankee Rowe nuclear plant in Rowe, Mass., after it was shut down for safety reasons. Fort. St. Vrain in Colorado and Rancho Seco in California were closed for economic reasons in 1989.
 "Trojan is just another nuclear domino collapsing under a wall of rising costs," said Denman. "The concept of relicensing the current generation of nuclear plants is a myth -- these plants are deteriorating far more rapidly than anticipated. Utilities like PGE are making the fiscally responsible decision in opting to close their reactors. As other nuclear utilities scrutinize the decisions of PGE and other reactor owners, they will reach the same conclusion."
 In addition to San Onofre Unit 1, Yankee Rowe and Trojan, other pressurized water reactors are confronted with premature aging. In 1989, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission cited nine reactors with embrittled pressure vessels that are expected to fall short of, or precipitously approach, minimum regulatory safety standards before the end of their 40-year life cycles. They are: Diablo Canyon Unit 1 in California; Zion Unit 1 in Illinois; Calvert Cliffs Unit 1 in Maryland; Palisades in Michigan; Fort Calhoun in Nebraska; Indian Point Unit 3 in New York; and Point Beach Units 1 & 2 and Kewaunee in Wisconsin.
 Embrittled reactor pressure vessel materials can cause "pressurized thermal shock," which can lead to severe accidents and a potential meltdown of the reactor. "Nuclear power is an inherently dangerous operation," said Martin Gelfand, SECC research director. "What separates these plants from accidents like Three-Mile Island or Chernobyl are strict standards, vigilant maintenance and experienced, attentive operators. Any compromise in safety precautions can result in disaster."
 During his election campaign, President-elect Clinton argued against increased reliance on nuclear power. "With regard to nuclear power, I generally oppose the proliferation of nuclear power plants because of my deep reservations about the safety risks and long-term problems posed by such plants," he wrote in response to a non-partisan 1992 candidate survey on energy. "Therefore, it is of utmost importance that safety issues at operating power plants receive careful scrutiny. This is the obligation of the federal government."
 The action by Portland General Electric comes just two weeks before Clinton is to be sworn in as president. "The utility realizes that the NRC under Clinton is going to be the watchdog it's supposed to be, and not the lapdog it's been under Reagan and Bush," said Gelfand. "Other utilities with marginal nuclear plants should heed PGE's prudent action," he added.
 The Safe Energy Communication Council (SECC) is an environmental coalition of national energy, environmental and public interest media groups. SECC works to increase public awareness of the ability of energy efficiency and renewable energy sources to meet an increasing share of the nation's energy needs, and of the serious economic and environmental liabilities of nuclear power. For more information, contact: SECC, 1717 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., Suite LL215, Washington, D.C. 20036, 202-483-8491.
 -0- 1/5/93
 /CONTACT: Chris Nichols of the Safe Energy Communication Council, 202-483-8491/


CO: Safe Energy Communication Council ST: Oregon IN: OIL UTI SU:

DC -- DC010 -- 1760 01/05/93 13:04 EST
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Date:Jan 5, 1993
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