Three Mile Island nuclear plant to close in September

Jack Unwin 10 May 2019 (Last Updated June 18th, 2020 15:28)

Three Mile Island (TMI) Generating Station Unit 1, the last operational reactor at the nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania, US, will close on 30 September 2019.

Three Mile Island nuclear plant to close in September
Three Mile Island nuclear plant will close in September 2019. Credit: Z22

Three Mile Island (TMI) Generating Station Unit 1, the last operational reactor at the nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania, US, will close on 30 September 2019, confirming the initial announcement of its closure in May 2017.

The decision was made due to the lack of advancement on House Bill 11 and Senate Bill 510 to save the plant in Congress. Plant owners Exelon Generation said in a statement: “it is clear a state policy solution will not be enacted before 1 June, in time to reverse the premature retirement of the plant.”

It has been estimated that the cost of decommissioning the plant would be $1.2bn and the closure would risk the jobs of 700 workers at the plant, although Exelon has said it would offer jobs to employees willing to relocate.

Exelon senior vice president Bryan Hanson said: “Today is a difficult day for our employees, who were hopeful that state policymakers would support valuing carbon-free nuclear energy the same way they value other forms of clean energy in time to save TMI from a premature closure.”

Exelon senior vice president Kathleen Barrón added: “Although we see strong support in Harrisburg and throughout Pennsylvania to reduce carbon emissions and maintain the environmental and economic benefits provided by nuclear energy, we don’t see a path forward for policy changes before the June 1 fuel purchasing deadline for TMI.

“We will continue to work with the legislature and all stakeholders to enact policies that will secure a clean energy future for all Pennsylvanians.”

TMI was the scene of a major incident in March 1979 when the failure of the water-coolant pumps caused a meltdown, with radiation being released into the atmosphere to relieve pressure. Despite this, no one was injured or exposed to radiation. The remaining 819 MW reactor, TMI-1, was not affected by the accident.

According to the World Nuclear Association, nuclear power was responsible for 20% of the US’ electricity generation in 2018.