The man who headed nuclear operations at Public Service Electric and Gas Co. for the past three years, focusing on problems at its Salem County plants, announced Monday he will retire in April.
Leon Eliason will be succeeded as president and chief nuclear officer of PSE&G's Nuclear Business Unit by Harold W. Keiser, who was named vice president pending the turnover, the utility said.
Eliason, 58, joined PSE&G in October 1994 and leaves after 32 years in nuclear power. Keiser, 51, comes to the Newark-based utility after 27 years in the nuclear business, most recently at Commonwealth Edison of Illinois.
PSE&G operates and owns over 40 percent of the Salem 1 and 2 nuclear reactors, both have which have been plagued with problems. The other co-owners are PECO Energy Co., Atlantic Electric Co. and Delmarva Power and Light Co.
Salem 2 was restarted last summer after being off for more than two years. Salem 1 has been off since May 1995, but PSE&G has applied to federal regulators for permission to resume operations there.
"I am satisfied that my job here is done," Eliason said.
"I believe Salem will prove to be one of the smartest, most prudent investments this company has made in providing for the future needs of its customers."
Utility chairman and chief executive officer E. James Ferland praised Eliason's efforts:
"Leon has spearheaded a complex and sophisticated operational makeover equal to that of any nuclear facility in the country and he has done it with a deliberate, self-critical, safety-first dedication that will be a lasting legacy."
PSE&G also operates and owns 95 percent of the adjacent Hope Creek nuclear plant. The other owner is Atlantic Electric.