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VIRGINIA POWER-LED CONSORTIUM MAKES

 RICHMOND, Va., Jan. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Citing increased jobs for displaced defense contractors and safety for nuclear power workers and the public, a Virginia Power-led consortium today submitted its formal proposal for a universal container system for spent nuclear fuel to the U.S. Department of Energy.
 "This universal container system (UCS) proposal can improve disposal efficiency, reduce cost, enhance safety and ensure jobs," said William L. Stewart, Virginia Power senior vice president- nuclear. "We believe development of the universal container is an integral component of the nation's nuclear waste management system."
 The other consortium members are Westinghouse Electric Corp., which will design the universal containers and overpacks, and Newport News Shipbuilding, which would fabricate the first universal containers. Newport News Shipbuilding, one of the nation's top defense contractors, expects the UCS proposal to be an important factor as it shifts from defense-related contracts to private sector work.
 The proposal is a dramatic change from the way DOE was planning to accept highly radioactive spent fuel from the nation's nuclear reactors in 1988. Previously, spent fuel would have to be handled by workers six to 10 times as it is transferred between storage and transport vessels before reaching a long-term storage repository.
 Under the Virginia Power team's UCS proposal, an inner metal container constructed of steel would be loaded only once, reducing workers' radiation exposure. The inner container would then be placed into a storage or stainless steel transport overpack that could be reused, providing additional cost savings.
 The universal containers in their transport overpacks could be sent to federal storage sites by rail, with one train shipment replacing about 70 truck shipments, further enhancing public safety.
 Funding would come from the federal Nuclear Waste Fund, which was established by Congress in 1982 to collect utility payments and use the money to develop a permanent high-level radioactive waste repository. Utilities contribute approximately $600 million per year to this fund through a fee on the amount of nuclear-generated electricity.
 Proposal specifics include:
 -- A three-phase development over five years. Phase I, which is projected to cost $7.7 million, would cover all design and development efforts.
 Phase II -- Licensing by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, fabrication of six prototypes for testing the national laboratories and four or more containers for a demonstration project at a nuclear station. The United States' first dry cask storage site, which also began as a successful, $32 million DOE/Virginia Power demonstration project, is at the Surry Power Station.
 Phase III -- Delivery of the first 60 production inner metal universal containers to DOE in 1998 for delivery to utilities. Delivery in 1998 provides DOE a means of meeting its obligation to provide for disposal of spent nuclear fuel even if a federal interim storage site is unavailable.
 -- An advisory panel composed of scientists, government officials, civic leaders and special interest groups would meet periodically to review the project. The panel answers a need cited by the consortium to get public participation.
 -- Projecting a need for 10,000 universal containers for the U.S. nuclear power industry, at a cost of about $600,000 each, or $200 million annually for 30 years.
 -0- 1/28/93
 /CONTACT: James W. Norvelle of Virginia Power, 804-771-6115/


CO: Virginia Power; U.S. Department of Energy; Westinghouse Electric
 Corp.; Newport News Shipbuilding ST: Virginia IN: UTI OIL SU:


KD -- DC014 -- 0256 01/28/93 12:17 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 28, 1993
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