Public comment sought in TMI decommissioning

A military aircraft flies near the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station viewed from the borough of Royalton, Dauphin County, Friday, March 15, 2019. The plant's Unit 2 reactors have been shut down since the March 28,1979, partial meltdown. Bill Kalina photo

Three Mile Island’s Unit 1 nuclear power reactor would not undergo cleanup for about 56 years, according to a plan outlined in a report on the plant’s decommissioning process.

The unit, owned by Exelon Generation, would cease operations permanently at the end of September, but decommissioning operations would not start until 2075 and site restoration would not begin until 2079 — 100 years after the partial meltdown at TMI Reactor 2.

The date of cleanup for the Unit 2 reactor — which is dependent on TMI-1 — keeps getting pushed back, getting more expensive and feels like "going down a road with no end in sight," said Eric Epstein, chairman of anti-nuclear watchdog TMI-Alert.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is requesting the public weigh in on the report, which further details the schedule, costs and environmental impact of decommissioning activities.

Two events are scheduled for public comment — a webinar on Tuesday, July 16, and a public meeting the following Tuesday, July 23, in Harrisburg.

Epstein plans to ask for an immediate cleanup of both units, as well as bring attention to Exelon’s proposed use of decommissioning trust fund money for the construction and management of dry cask spent fuel storage.

More:Exelon spent millions in lobbying after announcing TMI closure

More:After 40 years, Three Mile Island meltdown looms large

More:Exelon: Three Mile Island to close in September

More:TMI closure was 'inevitable,' lawmakers say

Storage is an operational cost, he said, and should not come from the trust fund.

NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said in an email in April that the DTF would be used to cover the costs of the dismantling of structures and the radiological cleanup.

"Three Mile Island is the only plant in the state that doesn’t have dry cask and they’re the only state that wants to pay for dry cask using ratepayers' money," Epstein said.

The method of delaying decommissioning while spent fuel is stored and removed — called SAFSTOR —  was chosen based on factors including cost, radiation minimization, storage availability, regulations and public concerns, the report states.

In the report, Exelon blamed the federal Department of Energy for its need to manage spent fuel.

"Use of the SAFSTOR method will require the management of spent fuel because of the DOE's failure to perform its spent fuel removal obligations under its contract with Exelon," the report states.

The webinar will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday, July 16, and online registration is required here.

The meeting on Tuesday, July 23, will be held from 6-9 p.m. at the Sheraton Harrisburg Hershey Hotel, 4650 Lindie Road, in Swatara Township, Dauphin County.

Any comments not given in person can be mailed with "Docket ID NRC-2019-0142" to the following address:

  • Office of Administration, Mail Stop: 1WFN-7-A60M, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, ATIN: Program Management, Announcements and Editing Staff.

All submissions will be posted online, so the NRC requests that the public not include any information they do not want disclosed.

A copy of the Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report can be found on the NRC website, and public documents can also be purchased at the following location:

  • NRC's PDR, Room 01-F21, One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike, in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Those available online will be in an NRC database at