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All licences and assets of unit 2 of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania will be transferred to a subsidiary of EnergySolutions under an agreement signed yesterday by US utility FirstEnergy and EnergySolutions. The reactor, which suffered a partial meltdown in 1979 and never reopened, will then be decommissioned.

The contract was signed between EnergySolutions and FirstEnergy subsidiaries GPU Nuclear Inc, Metropolitan Edison Company, Jersey Central Power & Light Company, and Pennsylvania Electric Company. Under the agreement, the plant, property, nuclear decommissioning trust fund, plant licences and responsibility for decommissioning Three Mile Island 2 (TMI-2) will be transferred to EnergySolutions subsidiary TMI-2 Solutions LLC.

The agreement also facilitates applications to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities for approval of the transfer, followed by decommissioning of TMI-2.

If approved, the proposed transaction is expected to close during the second half of 2020.

In the early 1980s, 99% of the nuclear fuel was removed from TMI-2, packaged and transported to a storage facility at the Idaho National Laboratory. The unit has remained in a safe and stable storage condition for the past 26 years.

"Transfer of TMI-2 removes any future nuclear decommissioning obligations from FirstEnergy and is consistent with our strategy of focusing on regulated utility operations," said Greg Halnon, GPU Nuclear president and chief nuclear operator. "EnergySolutions will complete the final remediation to transition TMI-2 from a safe and stable storage condition to a fully decommissioned facility."

To perform the decommissioning work at TMI-2, EnergySolutions and New Jersey-based construction company Jingoli formed a joint venture, called ES/Jingoli Decommissioning LLC. EnergySolutions said Jingoli has successfully managed and executed nuclear projects on behalf of numerous utilities in the USA and Canada. The company has experience in the nuclear field from pre-construction, construction management, project controls and decommissioning.

"We are excited for the opportunity to safely decommission unit 2 at Three Mile Island and restore the area to its natural state," said EnergySolutions President and CEO Ken Robuck. "We currently have four decommissioning projects, two of which will be completed in the next six months. Every project has provided valuable experience with best practices and lessons learned that we will incorporate into this project to safely decommission the facility."

EnergySolutions is currently performing decommissioning projects at the Zion nuclear power plant in Illinois and the La Crosse plant in Wisconsin. Both of these projects are expected to be completed in early 2020. The company is also decommissioning the San Onofre plant in California and the Fort Calhoun plant in Nebraska. In May this year, EnergySolutions completed decommissioning of the Southwest Experimental Fast Oxide Reactor (SEFOR) in Arkansas.

Three Mile Island unit 1 was last month shut down for economic reasons after over 45 years of generation. Owner Exelon Generation in May finalised its decision to close the unit after it became clear that the state of Pennsylvania would be unable to enact a policy solution recognising nuclear energy's contribution to zero-carbon energy production in time to preserve the unit. The 819 MWe (net) pressurised water reactor began commercial operation in September 1974 and was licensed to operate until 2034. The company has selected the SAFSTOR deferred dismantling option for the unit, and has previously said it plans to transition used fuel into the on-site used fuel pool and then to dry cask storage by the end of 2022.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Thursday, 17 October 2019
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