EnergySolutions takes over TMI-2 licence

03 December 2020

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has approved the transfer of unit 2 of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant and the corresponding possession-only licence from FirstEnergy Corp subsidiaries GPU Nuclear, Metropolitan Edison Company, Jersey Central Power & Light Company, and Pennsylvania Electric Company to a subsidiary of EnergySolutions known as TMI-2 Solutions. In addition to the NRC approval, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) has approved the sale of TMI-2 to TMI-2 Solutions.

Three Mile Island nuclear power plant (Image: Department of Energy)

The TMI-2 reactor, located about 10 miles southeast of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, operated for around six months before suffering reactor core damage on 28 March, 1979. Subsequently, about 99% of the fuel and damaged reactor core material was removed and shipped to the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory, and in 1993 the plant was placed in a Post-Defueling Monitored Storage status. The licence currently authorises only possession of by-product and special nuclear materials remaining at the reactor.

Ken Robuck, president and CEO of EnergySolutions, said yesterday: "We are excited for the opportunity to safely decommission Unit 2 at Three Mile Island and restore the area to its natural state. We currently have four decommissioning projects, two of which will be completed by the end of the year. These four projects have provided valuable experience with best practices and lessons learned that we will incorporate into this project."

In 1979, TMI-2 experienced a partial meltdown which resulted in permanent closure of the facility. In the 1980s, 99% of the nuclear fuel was removed from the plant, packaged and relocated to a storage facility at Idaho National Laboratory. The TMI-2 facility has remained in a safe and stable storage condition known as Post Defueling Monitored Storage for the past 27 years.

The NRC said yesterday it had determined that the proposed transfer complies with regulatory requirements, provides reasonable assurance that public health and safety will be protected, and is not detrimental to the common defence and security. The approval is effective immediately, and the licence will be amended to reflect the new ownership once the sale of unit 2 is completed.

FirstEnergy Corp and EnergySolutions submitted the request for the licence transfer in November 2019.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News