Feds outline plan for Three Mile Island shutdown

Harrisburg

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (WHTM) — With Three Mile Island shutting down operations by Sept. 30, we’re getting details on how it will work and what it means for people living nearby.

During a public webinar Tuesday, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission outlined the plan to shut down TMI Unit 1.

“Decommissioning a nuclear power plant is more akin to a marathon than a sprint,” NRC senior project manager Jack Parrott said.

If approved, Exelon Generation will use a process called SAFSTOR, where nuclear waste will be stored until 2073. At that point, there would be a period of preparation until dismantling can begin in September 2079. 

“Exelon has stated that it does not intend to perform any significant dismantlement work until after the period of SAFSTOR,” Parrott said.

NRC inspections are required annually until SAFSTOR ends.

“During these annual inspections, the NRC verifies that controls and methods for the safe storage of radioactive material and site structures are being maintained in accordance with regulations and licensing,” NRC branch chief Anthony Dimitriadis said.

NRC says Exelon has asked to eliminate certain offsite emergency response plans, but there are still many safeguards in place. 

“The plant will maintain an onsite emergency plan and response capabilities, including the continued notification of local government officials for an emergency declaration and coordination with offsite response organizations,” Dimitriadis said.

A statement from Exelon says, “with the upcoming shutdown of Three Mile Island Unit 1, we requested a change to the station’s emergency plan to reflect site conditions after shutdown, consistent with industry practice. The safety of our employees and the public is and always will be our top priority.”

“The NRC continues to check that operational safety controls, plant security, and emergency preparedness among other things remain sufficient to protect the public health and safety,” NRC project manager Marlayna Vaaler saod.

Another exemption Exelon requested was to use the TMI Unit 1 decommissioning fund to pay for the $1.2 billion dry cask storage.

While not uncommon to ask for, according to the NRC, opponents say it’s wrong.

“Every other plant in Pennsylvania has paid out of pocket. Three Mile Island wants an exemption to raid ratepayer money. That’s outrageous and we’ll strongly oppose that exemption,” said Eric Epstein, president of the watchdog group Three Mile Island Alert.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold a public meeting Tuesday, July 23, from 6-9 p.m. at the Sheraton Harrisburg Hershey Hotel.

“People need to get to this meeting next Tuesday night and voice their opposition to this plan because essentially, if this plan goes through, TMI becomes a high-level radioactive waste site forever,” Epstein said.

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