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NRC gives details of Three Mile Island’s upcoming closure; public can take part in Tuesday meeting

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 7/17/19

With the Sept. 30 shutdown looming for Three Mile Island, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission launched its public outreach efforts regarding decommissioning of the plant with a webinar Tuesday.

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NRC gives details of Three Mile Island’s upcoming closure; public can take part in Tuesday meeting

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With the Sept. 30 shutdown looming for Three Mile Island, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission launched its public outreach efforts regarding decommissioning of the plant with a webinar Tuesday.

Next on tap is a public meeting the NRC has scheduled for 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, July 23, at the Sheraton Harrisburg Hershey Hotel at 4650 Lindle Road.

During the meeting, NRC officials will discuss the Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report, known as the PSDAR, that Unit 1 owner Exelon has submitted to the NRC regarding decommissioning of the plant.

The public has until Oct. 9 to submit comments regarding the decommissioning report Exelon has submitted for Unit 1, according to the deadline set by the NRC.

The report is posted on the NRC website. To submit written comments online, use Docket ID NRC-2019-0142 on the regulations.gov website.

Comments also can be submitted by mail using the same docket number, to Office of Administration, Mail Stop: TWFN-7-A60M, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, D.C., 20555-0001, ATTN: Program Management, Announcements and Editing Staff.

According to the decommissioning report for Unit 1 submitted by Exelon, used fuel will be moved to the spent fuel pool shortly after the Sept. 30 shutdown.

Full-time employment at the plant would be reduced from the present 675 to 300.

Full-time staffing would be down to 200 by 2021 and down to about 50 in 2022.

After fuel is moved to dry cask storage in 2022, the Exelon plan proposes a period of about 50 years during which Unit 1 would be kept in safe storage. Exelon has said this is to allow added time for normal radioactive decay to ensure a “safer environment” for workers who will handle the decommissioning.

Decommissioning and dismantling of the plant would begin about August 2073 and last until 2079, according to a webinar the NRC held on July 16 for the media.

This would include taking down the large structures such as the cooling towers, not scheduled to be dismantled until 2074.

Restoring the site to a “greenfields” condition would take place from 2079 to 2081. However, the NRC noted that its regulatory oversight does not include site restoration.

Site restoration is overseen by the state working with the plant owner, the NRC said.

Termination of the Unit 1 license with the NRC is envisioned for September 2079, NRC said during the webinar.

During the 50 years the plant is in safe storage, NRC must inspect the plant at least once each year. The NRC will continue inspecting the plant as long as the plant is licensed.

NRC during the webinar also said Exelon has requested from the NRC a reduction in emergency response requirements. NRC is reviewing the request.

If the NRC approves the request, the reduction could go into effect within about a year and a half after fuel has been removed from the Unit 1 reactor and has had the opportunity to cool down to where a “fuel event” with off-site consequences is no longer possible, NRC said during the webinar.

At that time, the emergency response plan would no longer be an off-site plan, but an on-site emergency response plan only, the NRC said.

The NRC emphasized that even if this elimination of the off-site plan is approved, Exelon would still have to maintain an emergency response plan to handle other “issues” such as fire, medical emergencies, security, and any containment of radioactive material.