NRC denies challenge to Three Mile Island’s emergency plan

October 9, 2020, 12:12PMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has rejected a petition by Three Mile Island Alert (TMIA) challenging Exelon’s request to revise its site emergency plan for the closed Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania. Exelon submitted a request to the NRC to amend its TMI-1 license to reflect the reduced risks of the defueled reactor, which was permanently shut down in September 2019.

In an order issued on October 8, the NRC commissioners upheld a decision by an NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board denying TMIA’s petition to intervene and request a hearing in the license amendment request. That decision, issued on January 23, 2020, found that the antinuclear group had not established standing in the case and that its contentions were inadmissible.

The contentions: TMIA brought two contentions against Exelon’s license request. First, it argued that Exelon’s request does not provide financial assurances and does not demonstrate that either Exelon or FirstEnergy are fiscally responsible, or that either have access to adequate funds for decommissioning.

The ASLB found, and the NRC commissioners agreed, that the contention had no bearing on Exelon’s request to update its emergency plan and was therefore outside the scope of the proceeding.

Second, TMIA argued that the license request should have included an environmental report to satisfy the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). That contention was also rejected because, under NRC regulations, Exelon’s request did not meet the criteria necessary to trigger a NEPA analysis.

TMI-2, which has been closed since 1979, is owned by FirstEnergy. The company is currently seeking to transfer the reactor’s license to a subsidiary of EnergySolutions for decommissioning. TMI-2’s license transfer application is currently under review by the NRC.

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