LONDONDERRY TOWNSHIP, DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. - Through a webinar, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission breaks down how Exelon will decommission Unit 1 on Three Mile Island, which is still in operation but set to shut down by September 30th.
"We recognize this is something new for central Pennsylvania," said Neil Sheehan, NRC Public Affairs. "There have been some smaller early generations reactors that have decommissioned in Pennsylvania, but this will be the first large scale reactor to go that route."
The NRC gives nuclear plants the choice of a long term or short term cleanup approach. Exelon, which owns Unit 1, chose to go the long term route, with significant dismantling of the unit not set to happen until about 2078. That still falls in the mandatory 60-year timeframe the NRC gives nuclear plants to decommission.
"So, basically that would take advantage of that entire time period," said Sheehan. "It does allow radioactive at the plant to decay. So, there are fewer precautions needed but the amount of radioactive material involved has declined."
While the long term route comes with less precautions, radioactive materials will be safely store until the bulk of decommissioning begins. The NRC will still thoroughly regulate TMI's decommissioning process along the way.
"Making sure as they're cutting apart components and packaging them, as they're dismantling structures that they're taking the appropriate safety approaches to make sure there's not spread of radioactivity," said Sheehan. "That workers are properly protected and the public's properly protected as the work is going on."
Exelon issued this statement to FOX43 in response to the NRC's decommissioning webinars:
While we continue to operate Three Mile Island Unit 1 safely and at industry-leading levels until the planned shutdown on Sept. 20, we also are working actively on our responsibility to prepare the plant, along with the local community and our employees, for decommissioning after shutdown.
The NRC will hold a public meeting for comments on the decommissioning report for Unit 1 at TMI. It will take place on Tuesday, July 23rd, from 6-9pm at the Sheraton Harrisburg Hershey Hotel at 4650 Lindle Road in Harrisburg.