What’s next if Three Mile Island closes?

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (WHTM) – Now that Exelon has announced it plans to close the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant without state help, the company must decide what to do with the plant if it does shut down.

“Come 2019 when it’s time for unit shutdown, it’s not like turning the lights off,” TMI spokesman Dave Marcheskie said. “Once you do shut down the core here, you can’t come back. That’s why yesterday’s announcement was a serious one.”

Marcheskie said the goal is to turn the island into a green space.

Exelon officials will have two choices; one is is to immediately tear down the plant after safely storing the radioactive materials, the other is to allow the plant to remain idle for 60 years and then dismantle it. They say during that time, the radioactive material would take care of itself.

“At this time, it’s really early to speculate what the entire process will look like,” Marcheskie said.

Exelon has two years after the closure to choose an option.

Steve Libhart, the Director of Public Safety in Dauphin County, said he sees a timeline where it takes a decade for the plant to no longer pose a radioactive threat.

“That’s not to say from the (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) standpoint they would officially be decommissioned,” he said. “It would at least lessen the need for us to be prepared to respond to a full generator of electricity as they are now.”

No matter what option Exelon chooses, the radioactive material might have to stay on Three Mile Island because the United States does not have a national repository for spent fuel.

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