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Utility cancels plans to build second nuclear unit

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ST. LOUIS -- Union Electric Co. cited financial risks to investors and customers in its decision Friday to cancel the second unit of the Callaway nuclear power plant in central Missouri -- a step anti-nuclear groups had been seeking for years.

The second unit was scheduled to go into production in 1990.

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'We regret having to make the decision to cancel this unit, but we cannot expose our investors and customers to the financial risks and uncertainties inherent in its construction,' Chairman Charles J. Dougherty said.

UE reached a point where the utility could no longer maintain hopes of building the second unit without substantial additional costs, Dougherty said.

The utility announced last month it was considering the cancellation, which a leader of an anti-nuclear group said was good news for consumers.

'They are acting very responsibly and I would congratulate them,' said Dan Bolef, a physics professor at Washington University and vice president of the Coalition for the Environment.

'The cost of nuclear energy has gone sky high and the need for additional energy has changed dramatically in the last 10 years,' Bolef said. 'Hard economics has driven them to do it.'

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The first unit of the Callaway County facility, Missouri's first nuclear plant, is expected to be completed in 1984. The company said the first unit, near Fulton, is to cost $2.1 billion.

Dougherty estimated the cost of canceling the second unit will amount to about $70 million after taxes. The company said it will seek to recover the losses in its rates.

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