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TMI-Alert request on emergency planning denied; Exelon wants to reduce requirements

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 1/29/20

A request from the watchdog group TMI-Alert for a hearing on plans submitted by Exelon to scale back emergency management and planning regarding Three Mile Island was denied.

The group and its …

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TMI-Alert request on emergency planning denied; Exelon wants to reduce requirements

Posted

A request from the watchdog group TMI-Alert for a hearing on plans submitted by Exelon to scale back emergency management and planning regarding Three Mile Island was denied.

The group and its chairman, Eric Epstein, lack standing and the concerns raised in their request “are wholly lacking as a basis for granting their hearing petition,” according to an order issued Jan. 23 by the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, a three-member panel that rules on such petitions on behalf of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Exelon, which owns Unit 1, has requested permission from the NRC to eliminate emergency planning requirements that extend beyond the boundaries of TMI itself. The changes would take effect in January 2021. Exelon closed Unit 1 in September.

Exelon in its documents submitted to the NRC contends that by the end of January 2021, conditions on TMI will have changed to where a release of radiation into the atmosphere in excess of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency safety thresholds will no longer be considered “credible.”

Among other things, the changes sought by Exelon would eliminate the 10-mile evacuation zone surrounding TMI, which is located in Londonderry Township.

The changes would also reduce — by how much officials have not said — the $425,000 a year Exelon gives the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to support emergency preparedness and training directly tied to TMI.

PEMA distributes as grants a percentage of that $425,000 to counties and municipalities within the evacuation zone to enhance their capabilities via planning, training, and exercises, according to PEMA.

Epstein has told the Press & Journal that the NRC should allow no change in emergency planning requirements until all nuclear fuel is gone from TMI, and until both Unit 1 and Unit 2 reactors are fully decommissioned. Unit 2 has been shut down since the March 1979 accident.

Exelon filed its request before the NRC on July 1, 2019. Exelon requests the NRC act to approve the changes by Aug. 30, 2020.