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PSI Begins Selling Marble Hill Equipment

October 8, 1985

NEW WASHINGTON, Ind. (AP) _ Would-be buyers from as far away as Guam were on hand Tuesday as Public Service Indiana began auctioning off equipment at its defunct Marble Hill nuclear power plant.

Everything that might be found at a construction site - from cranes to office furniture - was up for bid, except nuclear equipment. The equipment being sold was valued at $6 million to $8 million, and the utility hoped to receive 15 to 25 percent of that, company spokeswoman Chris Combs said.

Nuclear equipment is being offered for sale directly to other utilities, PSI officials said.

″Basically there’s no difference between the material here and that at a conventional plant,″ said Clark Smilie, a specialist for auctioneer Rene Bates of McKinney, Texas.

As a result, the approximately 500 bidders included salvage specialists hired by small industrial shop managers.

″I’ve got $50,000 to spend,″ said Lon Massey, 75, who operates a salvage business in Guam that caters to South Pacific businessmen. ″Sometimes you can do real good, sometimes not so good at all.″

PSI invested $2.8 billion in Marble Hill before halting construction on Jan. 16, 1984, in the face of steeply climbing construction costs and safety problems.

One of the two nuclear reactor units was 55 percent complete at that time, the other 35 percent. Of the $700 million invested in equipment, the company has said it hopes to recover $75 million.

Ms. Combs said PSI already has recovered $66 million of its investment, including some nuclear fuel expenses not included in the equipment investment. The recovery program will continue two more years, she said, and may include sales overseas.

″We are exploring any kind of foreign markets available to us,″ she said.

The auction on the 900-acre site overlooking the Ohio River south of Madison will continue through Thursday or Friday.

Inside a warehouse that once served Bechtel Corp., a management consultant on the project, the bidding began Tuesday morning with Bates calling prices from the bed of a pickup truck. One man bought three metal desks for $25. Another purchased scores more desks at $10 apiece.

″I expect to save 75 percent (off the purchase price while new) or I don’t expect to buy,″ said Doug Polen, who operates a boiler repair shop in New Albany. ″There’s a lot of stuff that’s available and looks interesting. Hopefully, unless these people go crazy, I expect to save a lot.″

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