Nation & World

Three Mile Island reactor to be sold

Unit 2, clsoed since 1979, then to be dismantled

Bloomberg

Decommissioned cooling towers sit idle at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Middletown, Pa.
Bloomberg Decommissioned cooling towers sit idle at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Middletown, Pa.

Three Mile Island’s Unit 2 has been closed since 1979, when it was the site of the worst ever U.S. reactor accident. Now a Salt Lake City-based nuclear services company is in talks to buy and dismantle the facility.

Energy Solutions has signed a term sheet with FirstEnergy to acquire the Pennsylvania site, according to a statement Tuesday.

Terms weren’t disclosed and the deal doesn’t include Unit 1, the Exelon Corp.-owned reactor that’s scheduled to be closed in September.

Three Mile Island’s Unit 2 is arguably the nation’s most infamous nuclear plant.

In March 1979, a pump failure triggered an emergency shutdown that resulted in a partial meltdown and a radiation leak.

Seven U.S. nuclear plants have gone dark since 2013 and at least six more are expected to be closed in the next few years as the facilities struggle to compete against cheap electricity from natural gas and renewables.

That’s spurred the emergence of decommissioning specialists that buy the plants and tear them down.

Energy Solutions already is handling other decommissioning projects, but this would be the first time it assumes full ownership of a reactor.

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It’s forming a joint venture with the New Jersey-based construction company Joseph Jingoli and Son to handle the Three Mile Island project.

The job won’t include handling the plant’s spent nuclear fuel rods, which were removed in the 1980s.

Other nuclear services companies have pursued similar deals, including Northstar Group Services, which is at work on the Vermont Yankee plant it bought in January from Entergy Corp., and Holtec International, which has acquired or agreed to buy four plants from Entergy and Exelon.

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