Three Mile Island closure may cut EMS grant funding

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MIDDLETOWN, DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. -- The impending closure of Three Mile Island may be putting emergency management agencies in parts of Dauphin County at risk of losing grant money.

Currently, Exelon pays TMI fees to PEMA, which is used towards radioactive training and equipment for fire and EMS, as well as education in the case an emergency at the nuclear plant would occur.

Last year, PEMA received $425,000 from Exelon. 

All of that money is now at risk of being lost for EMS within a 10-mile radius of TMI, which may pose a potential risk.

“Once the reactor fuel is removed it doesn’t necessarily remove all of the threats that are going to be present at the physical site of TMI," said Stephen Bekanich, Deputy Director of Preparedness at PEMA.

PEMA officials say they are at the mercy of not only FEMA but also the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“They deem that it is ok to drop the zone, traditionally it happens two to three years after the decommissioning," said Bekanich.

If TMI closes, PEMA will meet with TMI officials to determine what would remain on-site and what the threat would look like to the environment.

All of that information would be used to determine future funding.

"Through the process of decay depending on what isotopes are in there it could take potentially a hundred years or longer for that to finally no longer be radioactive," added Bekanich.

Lt. Mike Krupilis with Middletown Fire Department says that’s exactly why a plan B is so important.

“We need to know how to react if that event were to ever occur," said Krupilis.

According to PEMA officials, they are looking at possibly using funding from other nuclear power plants in the state if needed.

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