Three Mile Island Unit 2 to transfer ownership

Local News

LONDONDERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WHTM) — The site of the partial nuclear meltdown in 1979 is transferring owners.

Three Mile Island Unit 2 will soon be under control of a company based in Utah.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the license transfer Wednesday from First Energy Companies to TMI-2 Solutions, a subsidiary of Energy Solutions, a radioactive waste disposal company.

Thursday marked the final test of 96 sirens, all working correctly more than a year since Unit 1 shut down.

“It’s sad, but it’s also irresponsible to dismantle the emergency plan that we have in place, to get rid of siren testing, as we begin to decommission one of the most radioactive sites in the country,” said Eric Epstein, chairman of TMI Alert.

That’s a problem Epstein has with Exelon Generation.

“With no fuel in the reactor and multiple and redundant backup systems in place to safely store the Unit 1 spent fuel, TMI’s already low risk to public health and safety declines even further,” Exelon spokesman Dave Marcheskie said in a statement. “The plant’s updated emergency plan, recently approved by the NRC and based on an extensive analysis of plant conditions, helps ensure that our emergency planning activities accurately reflect this lower level of risk.”

Epstein’s other concern is with Energy Solutions and the license transfer of Unit 2.

“This is not the right time to take a shortcut with the cleanup of Three Mile Island,” Epstein said. “The money’s not there. The technology’s not there. It’s grossly irresponsible to give $900 million of ratepayer money to a limited liability company in Utah.”

The NRC determined the proposed transfer complies with its regulatory requirements.

After our review the staff decided that granting this transfer would continue to ensure adequate protection of public health and safety,” said Diane Screncie, NRC spokesperson.

“A. That should not occur. B. There’s not enough money and C. Since nobody’s seen the plant in 30 years, there’s a likelihood that this is going to be a really hard lift,” Epstein said.

For its part, Energy Solutions says it currently has four decommissioning projects, providing valuable experience and lessons learned that will help them with Unit 2.

“We’re really dissapointed DEP signed off. What’s worse is that the approval was given without a hearing,” Epstein said. “So in essence the NRC said ‘look, we’re going to approve the license.’ It’s like a jury saying we’re going to render a verdict without any evidence.”

Screncie noted that Epstein did request a hearing, but the NRC process allows staff to transfer the license before a decision is made on the hearing request.

She says their decision doesn’t mean the public won’t be heard.

“The transfer has left open the possibilty that there could be a change in the transfer or conditions imposed based on what the outcome of the hearing will be,” Screncie said.

The license approval is effective immediately, but the actual transfer of ownership still needs to be worked out between the two companies.

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