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Nuclear watchdog opposes any agreement that would transfer ownership of Three Mile Island Unit

Nuclear watchdog opposes any agreement that would transfer ownership of Three Mile Island Unit 2, SEAN SAURO | Staff Writer – 10 Aug 20,

   Discussions are ongoing about a criticized plan to transfer ownership of Three Mile Island’s defunct Unit 2 reactor to a Utah-based company that would complete its dismantling.

    • And signs point to a settlement between state and federal regulators, and FirstEnergy, the power company that now owns the unit that partially melted down in 1979.

At least that’s what Dauphin County-based nuclear watchdog Eric Epstein said he suspects. Epstein said he opposes any kind of agreement that would advance the plan, which he worries could threaten radioactive disaster.

“We will not agree to allow Three Mile Island to become a radioactive waste site,” Epstein said. “An island in a river is the worst place for it.”

Spokespeople speaking on the behalf of the state Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission did not provide details about the negotiations.

“Regarding a settlement, DEP is evaluating the motion and will reach a decision soon,” DEP spokesman Neil Shader said. “More information will be available once a decision is reached.”

FirstEnergy spokeswoman Jennifer Young said much the same.

“FirstEnergy continues to work with the DEP as well as the NRC to address questions relevant to the license transfer and decommissioning plans for TMI-2,” she said. “Details of the settlement agreement are confidential.”

Last fall, Unit 2’s owners at FirstEnergy announced they planned to transfer ownership of all related licenses and assets to a subsidiary of Utah-based EnergySolutions, which would eventually dismantle the reactor.

The transfer must be approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and it’s to that commission that Epstein of the Harrisburg-based Three Mile Island Alert raised concerns, urging that the transfer not be approved before they are addressed.

Specifically, he worried about the environmental threats of leaving radioactive waste on the island, which is situated in the Susquehanna River just north of Conoy Township near the Dauphin-Lancaster counties line. That’s in addition to fears that rate-payer funded accounts will not have enough money to cover the cost of decommissioning.

Similar concerns were included in a letter sent earlier this year from DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell to federal regulators.

But now, Epstein worries that DEP officials will settle, undermining those fears, though he admits he hasn’t been a part of ongoing discussions — a point of contention.

“I don’t know how you build public confidence by excluding the public,” he said.

Regardless of what may come from negotiations, Epstein said his organization plans to continue advocating for safety “by any legal means,” appealing decisions if necessary.

August 11, 2020 - Posted by | safety, USA, wastes

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