The chairman of Virginia Electric and Power Co. today decried the lack of a firm national policy for disposing of nuclear wastes from commercial reactors.
Establishing a sound national policy, said T. Justin Moore Jr., is a challenge not only for Vepco but "a national issue that requires urgent federal action."
Waste disposal isn't a technical problem, Moore told Vepco stockholders at their annual meeting here. "It's political," he said.
"It's time and past time for the U.S. government to summon the political will and establish a statutory program with a fixed timetable and a workable mechanism for resolving state and local objections," Moore said.
Moore described waste disposal as a "very serious problem" faced by the utility. He said Vepco and 16 other utilities must find additional storage space for spent nuclear fuel while they wait for permanent disposal facilities.
Despite a mechanical failure that released radioactive gas at Vepco's Surry plant last weekend, Moore told stockholders the utility's nuclear-powered generating units "have operated splendidly."
Vepco also reported earlier in the week that a fire at the Surry plant Saturday resulted in the release of a small amount of contaminants into the air and the James River.
Moore sought to assure stockholders more than once that recent incidents at the plants were "all minor in nature" and that none resulted in a threat to public safety.
Referring to the company's first-quarter financial results, which were released yesterday, Moore saw a "promising outlook" for Vepco.
Net income for the quarter ended March 31 increased 37.5 percent to $75 million (56 cents a share) compared with $54.5 million (40 cents) in the first three months last year. Total sales of electricity for the most recent quarter were up only two-tenths of a percent, however.
In other action, Vepco stockholders approved management's proposal to increase the authorized number of common shares from 120 million to 150 million in support of construction requirements.
However, except for a dividend reinvestment plan and a customer and employe stock purchase plan, Vepco doesn't anticipate any further issue of common stock this year.