OPED: The real numbers behind Three Mile Island

Eric Epstein
Three Mile Island Alert, Inc.

Exelon has been targeting the media, elected officials and the public with doomsday predictions regarding the closure of Three Mile Island Unit-1.

Their numbers are misleading, don’t add up and fail to account for the $ 1.1 billion rate-payers were charged to build Three Mile Island, the $987 million rate-payers and taxpayers were billed to defuel TMI-2 and the $5.26 billion in stranded costs Exelon collected from rate-payers to bailout their nuclear fleet as a result of deregulation.

When considering more bailout money for Three Mile Island, please remember the following numbers:

  • Zero: The amount of taxes paid by TMI-2 annually.
  • Two: Number of unguarded entrances to TMI.
  • Five: Number of counties within 10 miles of Three Mile Island. The NRC does not require emergency planning for the cites of Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon or York.
  • Seven: Number of lobbying firms Exelon hired in Pennsylvania (2016) to convince legislators to support another bailout.
  • 10 percent: Exelon announced it would eliminate about 1,900 positions — 10 percent of its workforce — by 2006 as part of its restructuring. Exelon cut 1,200 additional positions in 2004 and another 700 in 2006.
  • 30 metric tons: Amount of high-level radioactive waste generated annually and stored onsite.
  • 90: Number of days TMI-2 operated before the meltdown.
  • 200+: Number of job losses at TMI-1 since Exelon bought TMI in 1999.
  • 520: The “Top 50” list published by the Patriot News on July 2, 2006, reported Exelon’s staffing numbers were 520.
  • 525: Number of jobs at Exelon reported to the NRC in their license renewal application for Three Mile Island.
  • 600 tons: Amount of of additional high-level radioactive garbage TMI-1 will produce from 2014 to 2034.
  • 804: Numbers of employees working at TMI in 1998.
  • 1999: The Better Business Bureau determined, “The process currently used to produce at least some, if not most, of the uranium-enriched fuels that are necessary to power nuclear energy plants emits substantial amounts of environmentally harmful greenhouse gases.” (May 13, 1999).
  • 2,000: Exelon Vice President and CFO, Robert Shappard, speaking in New York to the Deutsche Bank energy conference on June 22, 2004, boasted that Exelon “can cut 2,000 heads from our head count by the year 2006.”
  • $11,843: The amount of money Exelon spent to provide “gifts, hospitality, transportation and lodging for state officials” in Pennsylvania in 2016. (Source: “The Caucus,” March 21, 2017).
  • 69,468: Number of clean-energy jobs in Pennsylvania as of 2016. Lancaster and York combined for 4,684 energy efficiency and renewable-energy jobs. (Environmental Entrepreneurs).
  • $490,207: The amount Exelon spent to lobby candidates in Pennsylvania in 2016.
  • $1,111,840: The amount the Exelon PAC spent to fund candidates in Pennsylvania in 2016.
  • 2.3 million gallons: Amount of accident-generated, radioactive water TMI evaporated directly into the atmosphere.
  • $4.6 billion: Rate-payers spent $1.1 billion to build Unit-1 and Unit-2. Taxpayers and rate-payers were charged almost $1 billion to remove damaged fuel from TMI-2. The cost to decontaminate and decommission both reactors is more than $2.5 billion. These costs are not factored in another bailout. 

 — Eric Epstein is chairman of TMI-Alert, Inc., a "safe-energy organization" based in Harrisburg, Pa. and founded in 1977. It monitors Peach Bottom, Susquehanna, and Three Mile Island nuclear generating stations. Online at www.tmia.com.