Energy

Notorious Three Mile Island nuclear power station to shut down

Three Mile Island was the site of the worst nuclear accident in US history
Three Mile Island was the site of the worst nuclear accident in US history
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Three Mile Island was the site of the worst nuclear accident in US history
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Three Mile Island was the site of the worst nuclear accident in US history

The Three Mile Island nuclear power station in Pennsylvania is scheduled to close in September according its owner, Exelon Generation. The site of the worst nuclear disaster in US history, the still functioning Three Mile Island Generating Station Unit 1 (TMI-1) will be deactivated on September 30, 2019 due to financial difficulties resulting from lack of progress of a support bill in the state legislature.

On March 28, 1979, Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station Unit 2 (TMI-2) in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania suffered a partial meltdown of its reactor core due to a number of design flaws and poor decisions in handling a loss of coolant incident. Problems in the non-nuclear secondary system were followed by a stuck relief valve in the primary cooling system, resulting in the loss of large amounts of coolant.

This would have been bad enough, except that poor control and interface designs caused the operators to commit a series of errors that resulted in a cascade of malfunctions that resulted in the core overheating and the release of radioactive noble gases and iodine isotopes into the atmosphere.

Though there were no fatalities or injuries from the accident and the health effects from the radioactive release were deemed statistically insignificant, the accident had long-range political effects as support for nuclear power collapsed in the United States and many other Western nations.

Though TMI-2 was shut down and decommissioned, TMI-1 continues to operate today. However, the present owner of TMI-1, Exelon Generation, ran into financial difficulties involving refueling. Two bills for relief were introduced into the Pennsylvania state legislature, House Bill 11 and Senate Bill 510, but no action was taken to advance them. With the legislative session coming to a close, Exelon has decided to shut down the reactor prematurely and filed the federally required Post Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report with plans for TMI-1 after its final shutdown.

"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 TM-I from a premature closure," says Bryan Hanson, Exelon senior vice president and chief nuclear officer. "I want to thank the hundreds of men and women who will continue to safely operate TMI through September. We will offer a position elsewhere in Exelon to every employee who wishes to stay with the company and is willing to relocate, and we will do all we can to support the community, the employees and their families during this difficult period."

Source: Exelon

9 comments
piperTom
So, the "worst nuclear disaster in US history" has resulted in no deaths, no (personal) injury, and no significant health effects. I have to conclude that nuclear energy is the safest industry we have. Safe, but absurdly expensive. Let's reconsider using it when it doesn't need any kind of subsidy.
fb36
IMHO, it is not really smart to closedown any nuclear power plant, just because we have cheaper electricity, produced using natural gas produced using fracking!!! AFAIK, it takes decades to start a new nuclear power plant (which produces plenty carbon-free energy, regardless of availability of sun/wind)! Not to mention, natural gas is a non-renewable energy source, which we better always use as little as possible, to keep it available for humanity, as long as possible! Not to mention, fracking (for gas & oil) is extremely damaging & dangerous activity, that IMHO should/must be banned absolutely/definitely/globally!!! (It is keep cracking & dissolving deep bedrock!!! So far, it "just" caused stronger & stronger earthquakes but, what if, it causes large areas of ground to collapse someday???)
paul314
So essentially the company didn't budget enough for refueling and no bank would lend them the money based on revenue projections? 45 years sounds like a reasonable operating lifetime.
F. Tuijn
After more than sixty years nuclear power in US cannot survive without subsidies. In the Netherlands ( technology might be the same but laws are different ) the PV industry promised that electricity from solar voltaic would not be more expensive than from the net after 2020. That proved to be 2017. The Netherlands are promoting wind power projects in the North Sea, giving the concession to the company doing with the least subsidy. In the latest two trances the subsidies demanded were ZERO.
Pablo
The lies told to residents of the area by local politicians at the time of the accident were a huge issue. The ludicrous cost of nuclear power rises from the same origin, horrid misguided regulation by incompetent legislators... We need sensibly written scientifically based laws to promote the safe design and operation of nuclear power plants. And while we’re at it, let’s quit building these things in small towns like Middletown, and exporting the output to New York City. If they want the energy, they can assume the risk as well.
Wolf0579
Every penny of "profit" extracted from this facility, should be stripped from it's up-front recipients, to pay for the long-term storage of the facility and it's waste. That's where the real cost of these reactors is. Two hundred and fifty thousand years. Try to imagine that amount of time... taking care of nuclear waste reactor fuel rods that MUST BE KEPT COOL. That's just the HALF-LIFE of the waste. After that amount of time, it's still fully HALF AS DEADLY for another two hundred and fifty thousand years. And so on. The entire nuclear power industry was and is a scam... a very expensive and deadly dangerous one.
Kpar
I do not know about the subsidies applied to nuclear power, but I DO know about the ridiculous barriers in place to prevent the development of safe, inexpensive (and decentralized) nuclear energy. Nuclear energy's biggest obstacles are trial lawyers, regulatory agencies (both Federal and state), NIMBYs, and, to a much lesser extent, the oil industry. A lot of hype, a lot of lies, resistance to new technologies, and general fear of the unknown (unknown by choice, in most cases!) have prevented us from benefiting from the safest energy source in human history.
Douglas Bennett Rogers
The big problem with high level waste is that it has 90 % of its original fuel value. If it were cool, it would be encased in cheap polyethylene, which would last for millions of years. As it is it requires refractory metal and glass. A sub critical fusion reactor could metabolize this waste and provide cheap power. This is buildable with existing technology.
Gregg Eshelman
Lies and/or ignorance (which they refuse to be corrected on) from people opposed to nuclear power because of nuclear weapons are why nuclear power plants cost so much and take so long to build. Much of the design and safety problems some nuclear power plants have had stem from things forced by the opponents of nuclear power and government regulations. They don't upgrade control systems to be better and easier to use because they're not allowed to change. If you saw the videos of the Fukushima control room, taken not long before the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, you may have wondered why it looked like something from over 40 years ago. Where are the computer monitors? Why are there walls of lights and switches and dials? That's because it is over 40 years old and the opponents of nuclear power refused to allow upgrades. Keeping nuclear and other power plants 'frozen' as they were when built looks to me to be part of a long term plan. Don't allow upgrading and modernization and eventually the plant will have to be shut down when it becomes impossible to maintain. Or something will fail catastrophically and the opposition can point and say "We warned you this technology was dangerous!". For coal, oil, and gas fired power plants the opposition has pun in place and kept in force regulations that prevent them from reducing their emissions. If they can't be brought down to current standards, they can't make any changes. To bring many older plants to current standards would require replacing all or most of the power plant. So nothing happens. Bush Jr. tried to get changes made so they could add whatever emissions reductions were *practical*, perhaps cutting emissions by 25%. But nope, the environmentalists demanded all or nothing. Nothing happened because shutting an old power plant down and taking apart/removing stuff to upgrade to current emissions would then run into protests and lawsuits to stop the plant from being rebuilt. So the old plants keep chugging along emitting their environmentalist enforced higher amounts of pollution - while the environmentalists continue to protest about how much pollution the old plants emit.
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