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It's over: Three Mile Island's Unit 1 is shut down

Press & Journal Staff

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717-944-4628
Posted 9/20/19

Three Mile Island is no more.

At noon today, operators took the TMI Unit 1 reactor offline for the final time.

Over the next few weeks, workers will remove the reactor’s fuel supply and …

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It's over: Three Mile Island's Unit 1 is shut down

Posted

Three Mile Island is no more.

At noon today, operators took the TMI Unit 1 reactor offline for the final time.

Over the next few weeks, workers will remove the reactor’s fuel supply and store it safely in the station’s used fuel pool. After that, workers will begin preparing the station for long-term decommissioning.

“Today we celebrate the proud legacy of TMI Unit 1 and the thousands of employees who shared our commitment to safety, operational excellence and environmental stewardship for nearly five decades,” Bryan Hanson, Exelon Generation senior vice president and chief nuclear officer. said in a press release. Exelon owns TMI Unit 1.

“At a time when our communities are demanding more clean energy to address climate change, it’s regrettable that state law does not support the continued operation of this safe and reliable source of carbon-free power. It’s critical that we continue to pursue policy reform to prevent other carbon-free nuclear resources from being pushed out of the market by rules that fail to evenly value clean energy resources and at the same time allow emitting resources to pollute for free,” he said.

Exelon first announced in May 2017 the company’s intention to prematurely shut down Unit 1 by Sept. 30, 2019, unless the state approved a subsidy to benefit the nuclear industry in Pennsylvania, similar to the subsidy the state already has in place for other forms of renewable energy in the state like wind and solar.

At the time of the 2017 announcement, TMI had 675 full-time employees, according to Exelon.

That number was down to about 515 by Friday, through natural attrition, the company said.

About 300 of Three Mile Island Unit 1’s employees will stay for the first phase of decommissioning. Other employees are taking on different roles within Exelon companies. Others retired or took jobs outside the company.

Three Mile Island Unit 1 began commercial operation in September 1974. Since it opened, Exelon estimates that the station and its employees contributed more than $3.5 billion into the local economy, including wages, taxes, charitable contributions and local purchasing.

“We salute Three Mile Island and its employees for the service and partnership they have provided to Londonderry Township and the surrounding communities for 45 years,” Londonderry Township Manager Steve Letavic said. “This is a tough day for many. However, we look forward to maintaining a strong relationship with those at the facility as it enters into decommissioning.”

On March 28, 1979, Unit 2 was the site of the worst nuclear accident in U.S. history which resulted in severe damage to the reactor core after there was a partial meltdown.