The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved the transfer of the license for Unit 2 of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant from FirstEnergy Companies to TMI-2 Solutions, a subsidiary of Utah-based EnergySolutions. The approval, announced on December 2, is effective immediately, and the license will be amended to reflect the new ownership once the sale of TMI-2 is completed.
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities has also approved the sale of TMI-2 to TMI-2 Solutions, EnergySolutions announced the same day.
FirstEnergy Companies, comprising Metropolitan Edison Company, Jersey Central Power and Light, Pennsylvania Electric Company, and GPU Nuclear, requested in November 2019 the license transfer for TMI-2 Solutions to complete the decommissioning of the unit.
Quote: “We are excited for the opportunity to safely decommission Unit 2 at Three Mile Island and restore the area to its natural state,” said Ken Robuck, president and chief executive officer of EnergySolutions. “We currently have four decommissioning projects, two of which will be completed by the end of the year. These four projects have provided valuable experience with best practices and lessons learned that we will incorporate into this project.”
The reactor: Located near Middletown, Pa., TMI-2 experienced a partial meltdown on March 28, 1979. The reactor was placed in a safe and stable storage condition known as post-defueling monitored storage, and its nuclear fuel was moved to a storage facility at Idaho National Laboratory. The license currently authorizes only the possession of by-product and special nuclear materials remaining at the reactor.
The NRC said that its review of the proposed license transfer determined that it complies with NRC regulatory requirements, provides reasonable assurance that public health and safety will be protected, and is not detrimental to the common defense and security.
To perform the decommissioning work on the TMI-2 project, EnergySolutions and the New Jersey-based construction company Jingoli formed a joint venture called ES/Jingoli Decommissioning LLC.
Objections: The license transfer was initially challenged by Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which filed a petition to intervene with the NRC in April. The DEP, however, reached a settlement with FirstEnergy in August that increased the state’s oversight of the project and set the terms for a decommissioning advisory panel. According to a December 1 report by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the DEP is still concerned about the adequacy of funds set aside to complete the work of decommissioning TMI-2. It was reported that it will cost $1.4 billion to decommission the reactor. TMI-2 currently has an estimated $900 million in its decommissioning trust fund.
A separate petition to intervene in the license transfer proceeding submitted by Eric Epstein and Three Mile Island Alert is still pending before the NRC. Under agency regulations, the NRC commissioners can approve a license transfer while the proceeding is still being adjudicated.