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POST-HEARING QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

JOSEPH M. FARLEY PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

SOUTHERN NUCLEAR OPERATING COMPANY

MARCH 5, 1991

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS POSED BY SENATOR JOHNSTON

THE PROCESS LAID OUT IN TITLE XII

1.

In his testimony, Mr. Young identifies three main problems with the provisions of Title XII -- that DOE is already doing most of the things envisioned under Section 12005; that it is too early to expect a utility to order a nuclear plant, even with the benefits of Section 12005; and that direct federal government participation in a demonstration project would be inappropriate.

This is a fairly strong rejection of Title XII.

a.

Do you believe that DOE can do everything necessary to revive the nuclear option without any enforcement or encouragement by Congress?

Response:

No. Reviving the nuclear option will require the combined and

coordinated efforts of Congress, the nuclear power industry, and numerous

state and federal regulatory agencies, including DOE. Congress, as a

barometer of public will and public interest, must continue to exercise its

leadership and oversight responsibilities to insure that appropriations are

targeted to achieve quickly the re-emergence of nuclear energy. Without

such endorsement and encouragement, the efforts of DOE and others will

be seriously handicapped. For its part, DOE must remain very active in this

endeavor.

The most effective contribution it can make to preserve the

nuclear option is to continue its research and development efforts in the

ALWR program, including resolving first-of-a-kind engineering issues and site

certification issues.

b.

What part of Title XII, if any, do you think would be helpful in ensuring that advanced reactor designs will be available when needed?

Response:

The principal goal of Title XII is to promote commercial operation

of a nuclear plant utilizing an advanced reactor design. Title XII proposes

to accomplish this goal by government participation in the construction phase

and operation of the nuclear power plant. Southern Nuclear believes that

the advanced reactor design closest to commercial operation is the ALWR.

For this design, current DOE programs supporting design certification, first

of-a-kind engineering and site certification should continue independently of

Title XII. Once those issues are resolved, and the NRC has certified ALWR

designs for commercial operation, such success, coupled with Congressional

reform of the licensing process and high-level waste issues, would make

government participation in constructing and operating an ALWR

unnecessary. Instead, the free market system should determine whether an

order for such an ALWR will be placed.

For other advanced reactor designs such as the MHTGR, government

participation in a demonstration plant may very well be needed. At Southern

Nuclear, we believe that an MHTGR will become a commercial candidate

only after several years of performance as a demonstration project and the

completion of enough fuel cycles to provide high assurance of economic

performance and material suitability for the long term. More specifically, we would want to see at least two fuel cycles of twenty months each for an

MHTGR to assure us that the fundamental fuel design, manufacturing and

operational integrity are adequate. Moreover, we note that although the

MHTGR concept has a bright future as a viable application of an advanced

reactor design making it deserving of continuing development, we currently

do not believe such a design could be available to evaluate and possibly

order until some undetermined year after 2005.

Consequently, Title XII's objective of promoting an advanced reactor

design such as the MHTGR through government participation in

a

construction project should be started after 1995. The priority should remain

with pursuing design certification, site planning, first-of-a-kind engineering,

licensing reform and resolution of high-level waste issues for an ALWR.

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Response:

Because we believe that the advanced reactor design most susceptible

to the programs established by Title XII are the MHTGR and the LMFBR,

we recommend that the legislation be made clear that it applies only to these

types of unproven commercial technology. Focusing Title XII on continued

support for ALWR programs resolving the issues identified above would also

be a useful indication of Congressional concern over the future of nuclear

energy.

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