TMI officials respond to recent malfunctions

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (WHTM) – The big question everyone wants answered is should we be worried? According to officials with Three Mile Island, the answer is no, but some are not convinced.

“Three Mile Island has a certainly legacy to this area,” TMI spokesman Ralph DeSantis said.

That is why two equipment malfunctions at TMI in less than a week has raised concerns and questions.

“We do our best to maintain our equipment. Equipment reliability is a really important to us,” DeSantis said.

“We have two full time inspectors there at the plant looking at the control rod issue as well as the complication as the plant was shutting down yesterday,” Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Neil Sheehan said.

Under the microscope is the control rod that dropped inside a reactor over the weekend.

“Nobody lost power. No power was disrupted,” DeSantis said.

While attempting to fix the control rod, a steam bypass valve malfunctioned on Wednesday, releasing steam and trace amounts of radiation.

“It’s not dangerous whatsoever, no. No danger at all to the environment or the public,” DeSantis said.

But some disagree.

“Philosophically, we have a different opinion than the people who operate the plant. We believe any exposure is a potential overexposure. Radiation is cumulative in nature, so it’s not a good thing that radiation was released into the environment,” said Eric Epstein, chairman of Three Mile Island Alert, a safe energy group. “This is a serious issue, nobody takes a plant offline unless they have a safety challenge.”

Sheehan says taking the plant offline was the right thing to do.

“After troubleshooting and trying to fix this without going off-line, they determined they really needed to shut down to make repairs,” Sheehan said.

Meanwhile, Epstein wonders if we’ll see more of the same in the future.

“You are going to see these types of safety challenges because the plant is getting older, plants need to be changed out,” he said.

In September 2012, TMI was shut down for an equipment malfunction for two days. So far, there is no word on when the plant will reopen.

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