The production shutdown of Three Mile Island’s No. 1 reactor has reignited questions over who will pay decommissioning costs and the fate of the plant’s employees.
Production was scheduled to end at noon today.
The unit was licensed through 2034 but Exelon officials opted to cease production earlier, citing excessive costs in statements made earlier this year.
Citizens Against Nuclear Bailouts criticized the shutdown.
“Exelon Generation made the boardroom decision to begin the decades-long decommissioning process at its TMI nuclear generating facility rather than investing the corporation’s billions of dollars in profits to support the plant, community and employees,” the organization said in a statement.
About 112 of the plant’s employees will be laid off beginning Oct. 1, according to documents filed with the state labor department. About 515 employees currently work at Three Mile Island, Exelon spokeswoman Lacey Dean told the Patriot-News. Employees have been offered jobs at the company’s two other Pennsylvania nuclear plants, she said.
Three Mile Island drew national attention after an accident at the site's second reactor in 1979. The second unit has remained dormant since that time.
With the closure of Unit 1, the spotlight is on the decommissioning process. Companies that operate nuclear power plants are required to have decommissioning monies set aside.
Unit 1 at Three Mile Island has $467 million in its decommissioning fund and $625 million in its external trust fund, according to information presented at a meeting of the Pennsylvania House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. Unit 2 has $486 million in its decommissioning fund and $834 million in its external trust fund.
The process will take several decades and will cost more than $1 billion, according to previous reports.
Rep. Thomas Mehaffie proposed a six-year, $500 million annual commitment to the commonwealth’s nuclear energy program in hopes of preventing the closure of Three Mile Island and help the four other plants still operating. Exelon stated the bill would not stop the plant’s closure.
The bill is currently in the Consumer Affairs Committee.