The owner of Three Mile Island, site of the worst commercial nuclear power accident in US history, will shut down the plant in 2019 unless it receives a financial rescue from the Pennsylvania state government. In March 1979, equipment failure and operator errors led to a partial core meltdown of one of Three Mile Island’s two reactors. The damaged reactor has been mothballed since then but the other reactor is still in use. The owner of Three Mile Island, Exelon, said operating costs for just one unit at the plant were high, further damaging Three Mile Island’s financial viability in a time of competition from natural gas and renewable energies.
Guardian 30th May 2017 read more »
A Pennsylvania power plant which triggered the worst nuclear disaster in US history is to close, its owner says. Three Mile Island – which experienced a partial reactor meltdown in 1979, spawning nationwide protests – will shut in 2019. Exelon Corp, which owns the facility, said the low cost of natural gas extraction had made nuclear-generated electricity unprofitable. Since 2013, six nuclear reactors in the US have shut for economic reasons. Nuclear plants have closed before their licences expired in California, Florida, Nebraska, Vermont and Wisconsin, with more set to be decommissioned in the next several years. The low cost of electricity is being attributed to natural gas extraction from shale formations such as in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus region. The Three Mile Island meltdown occurred on 28 March, 1979, alarming more than two million people who lived nearby and the city of New York 180 miles (300km) away. A federal inquiry found no deaths or injuries were caused by the accident, though it dented public confidence in nuclear energy for years.
BBC 30th May 2017 read more »
No one died, there were no direct health impacts, but the Three Mile Island (TMI) nuclear accident burned so deeply into the US psyche that it has helped limit the future use of the power source across America. A major factor in turning the accident into a “disaster” was timing. Just 12 days before the 1979 accident that saw a partial core meltdown at one of the two reactors at the Pennsylvania plant, The China Syndrome was released in cinemas across the US. The film’s plot centred on a major safety issue at a California nuclear plant. It was a spooky backdrop to the worst real world nuclear accident in US history. While citizens were frightened by TMI, so too were investors. The accident happened after just three months of commercial operation causing the plant owner to go bankrupt. The whole clean up effort took 14 years and cost almost $1bn. Six nuclear plants have closed around the US in the past five years. Another five are likely to go in the next few. But even if the nuclear operators could benefit from the public purse in the way that renewables like wind and solar already do, the real killer for atomic energy has been natural gas. Hydraulic fracturing has seen US production of gas rise by over 40% in the decade to 2016. It’s plentiful, cheap and flexible. Operators can turn production on or off rapidly in response to demands. And as well as puncturing nuclear’s bubble, the rise of gas has also helped put coal on the floor.
BBC 30th May 2017 read more »
Three Mile Island, the power plant that was the site of the most serious US civil nuclear accident, will shut down in 2019 unless it is given additional government support, the company that owns it has said. The planned closure is a sign of the intense competition from cheap gas-fired generation that is jeopardising the economics not just of new reactors, but even of existing nuclear plants. One of Three Mile Island’s two reactors has remained closed since it suffered a partial meltdown in 1979. The other has continued to operate, and is licensed to keep running until 2034. But on Tuesday Exelon, the electricity group that owns the plant, said it planned to close Three Mile Island around the end of September 2019, with the loss of 675 jobs, unless there were “needed policy reforms” from the state of Pennsylvania.
FT 30th May 2017 read more »
IB Times 30th May 2017 read more »
Bloomberg 30th May 2017 read more »
The Hill 30th May 2017 read more »