Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant to Close

Source: Wikimedia Commons

40 Years after the Three Mile Island meltdown of the nuclear power plant near Middletown, Pennsylvania on March 28th, 1979, Exelon has announced the close of Unit 1 of the plant on Sept 30th, 2019.

The plant is located 10 miles SE of the state capital, Harrisburg.

The company says the plant has been losing money for years. The nuclear industry generally has struggled to compete with less expensive electricity generated from natural gas and renewable energy.

Exelon Generation had previously announced the nuclear power plant would shut down, absent policy reform, due to economic challenges and market flaws that it says fail to recognize the environmental and resiliency benefits from TMI and other nuclear plants in the state.

Exelon first announced it would close two years ago unless lawmakers stepped in to keep it open. It then campaigned to save the plant by seeking a subsidy from Pennsylvania’s legislature.

The company argued that, in light of climate change and efforts to address it, the plant deserves compensation for the carbon-free electricity it produces.

Officially, the meltdown in 1979 caused no deaths. But unofficial investigations and lawsuits claimed there were above-average rates of cancer and birth defects in the surrounding area.

The accident halted the development of the U.S. nuclear power industry for 30 years. During that time, no new nuclear power plants were approved. Several that were under construction at the time of the accident were completed. 

Nuclear power supporters in Pennsylvania say they will continue to pursue subsidiesfor the industry, hoping that will keep the state’s four other plants operating.

Nationwide, nuclear energy currently provides about 20 per cent of the country’s electricity.