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Three Mile Island Owner Looking at Reopening Plant

By    |   Wednesday, 10 July 2024 01:40 PM EDT

One of the reactors at the mothballed Three Mile Island power plant could be switched back on as part of a White House push to reopen closed nuclear facilities. 

Constellation Energy, which owns Three Mile Island, the Pennsylvania plant that sparked a nationwide panic when one of its reactors suffered a partial meltdown in 1979, says that the other reactor, Unit 1, kept running until 2019 and remains in "pretty good shape," The Washington Post reported.

The meltdown in the plant's Unit 2 reactor remains the site of the worst nuclear accident in the history of the United States. The unit has remained shut down for the past 45 years since the partial meltdown, but TMI-1, sitting next to the shuttered reactor, remained in play at the plant, located along the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania.

Recently, Constellation told investors that it is weighing the unit's restart, which would take several years to complete.

"We think it is technically feasible to restart it," CEO Joe Dominguez said in an interview.

Dominguez, though, said the company has not made any decisions on reopening Three Mile Island, but still said that "we are extraordinarily confident" in the plant's Unit 1. 

Constellation could complete all construction and licensing for the plant within three years of committing to restarting it, he added.

Fuel and debris from the damaged reactor were moved to the Idaho National Laboratory.

Critics, though, say the history of Three Mile Island cannot be ignored, and people in the area believe they were exposed to more radiation than the government will admit.

However, with Unit 1 continuing to operate safely for the next 45 years, some in the community say they are willing to restart the plant, but others, like nuclear safety activist Eric Epstein, disagree.

"How many times is the industry going to reinvent a broken nuclear wheel, and ask for another taxpayer bailout?" he said. 

The Post reported the nuclear power industry was shutting plants down because they were not able to compete with plants powered by natural gas, or wind and solar power.

However, data centers needed for artificial intelligence and other technology are expected to be using up to 9% of the country's power supply by 2030, reports the Electric Power Research Institute.

Manufacturing in electric vehicles is also causing demand, leading to the search for new power sources.

In addition to Three Mile Island, the owner of the Palisades nuclear plant in Michigan says it will be running again before the end of 2025, and NextEra is looking at restarting a nuclear plant in Iowa.

The Biden administration is calling for clean energy subsidies, and states are also advancing bills for new plants, including moratoriums being lifted in Illinois, West Virginia, and Connecticut.

Still, safety concerns are in play, largely stemming from the Three Mile Island incident, although there were no injuries from the meltdown that at one point threatened up to 2 million people with radioactive exposure. Supply chain issues and challenges in engineering are also concerns. The first new reactors in 2016 came online recently at the Vogtle nuclear plant in Georgia, opening seven years late and at a cost soaring to $20 billion over the facility's budget.

Sandy Fitzgerald

Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics. 

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

One of the reactors at the mothballed Three Mile Island power plant could be switched back on as part of a White House push to reopen closed nuclear facilities.
nuclear, power, plant, energy, fusion, fission, electricity
Wednesday, 10 July 2024 01:40 PM
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