MIDDLETOWN, DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. - Local, county and state leaders gather in the heart of Middletown, Dauphin County to remind people, "the clock is ticking" to find a way to stop Three Mile Island from shutting down. TMI is expected to close next September and it's impact is expected to be felt beyond the more than 600 people who work at the plant.
While state leaders, like State Rep. Tom Mehaffie, also a member of the state's nuclear caucus, work to create legislation that could help save TMI and other nuclear energy plants in the future, he says that type of legislation won't be introduced until after the new year.
"We are working extremely hard to get this right and make sure that we do all the right things," said Rep. Mehaffie. "Not only for this district, not only for dauphin county but also as a nation."
With the clock ticking, it is now a waiting game for the 675 employees who work for TMI.
"It's a hard time right now," said David Marcheskie, from TMI. "Again they're cautiously optimistic but again we're at this year point now and I think a lot are hoping for the best but they understand that it's a real possibility this plant could close and they're have to uproot their families to somewhere else."
Potentially losing these workers who call this area home will have impacts on their own communities.
"Those workers have become integrated in to the fabric of our communities," said Anna Dale, Londonderry Township supervisor. "If we lose that we lose the backbone to our communities."
Dave Kitner, owner of Roberto's Pizza and Subs in Middletown says, TMI makes up 10-12 percent of his business. Every other September when TMI brings in 1,500 additional workers to refuel and perform maintenance on Unit One, Kitner delivers 450 pizzas to the plant every day for three to four weeks.
"That's the lifeline to the restaurants around here. Not just me, we're talking the great restaurants around here and shops," said Kitner. "Workers are going to be lost, impact with taxes is going to be catastrophic. It's just going to be catastrophic that this plant closes."