Nuclear, O&M, Waste Management & Decommissioning

EnergySolutions signs deal on final decommissioning efforts for Three Mile Island Unit 2

Nuclear operations and decommissioning firm EnergySolutions Inc. has signed a term sheet to acquire a long-closed unit of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania.

EnergySolutions is negotiating with GPU Nuclear, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy, on the asset transfer of Three Mile Island’s Unit 2 near Middletown, Pa., and to complete its decommissioning. That unit has been in a condition known as post defueling monitored storage for the past 26 years.

Unit 2 suffered a partial meltdown in March 1979 and has been out of operation ever since then. The nuclear fuel was removed in the 1980s and relocated to an offsite storage facility at the Idaho National Laboratory.

The remaining decommissioning work will result in complete dismantlement and removal of all nuclear waste.

“We are looking forward to working with FirstEnergy to acquire the asset and to safely complete the decommissioning of this site,” Ken Robuck, President and CEO of EnergySolutions, said in a statement. “Our extensive experience allows us to continue to refine our Decommissioning Management Model, which builds on each project by incorporating lessons learned and utilizing leading technologies that have proven successful.”

Three Mile Island’s 2,600-MW Unit 1 was not impacted by the accident and has remained in operation, Owner Exelon Corp., however, reported it will shut that unit down at the end of September, as the company has been losing money on its operations for several years.

Unit 1 was commissioned in 1974, six years after construction began. Unit 2 began commercial operation four years later, but only for a short time when several mechanical failures led to the partial meltdown.

Cleanup of Unit 2 damages took 14 years and cost close to $1 billion. Meanwhile, nuclear power has become very expensive compared to lower cost natural gas and renewable solar and wind. Only one new nuclear project, the Vogtle Unit 3 and 4 expansion, is currently under construction in the U.S.

EnergySolutions’ nuclear decommissioning experience includes the nearly completed decommissioning of the Zion Nuclear Power Station in Illinois and the La Crosse Boiling Water Reactor in Wisconsin. The Zion project is the largest commercial decommissioning project in the U.S. to date, according to the company.

EnergySolutions is also in a partnership with AECOM to decommission the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant in Southern California. EnergySolutions recently reached an agreement with the Omaha Public Power District in partnering to decommission the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant in Nebraska and just completed decommissioning the SEFOR Test Reactor in Arkansas.

With the term sheet signed, EnergySolutions and FirstEnergy will proceed with definitive agreements and applications to the NRC for the transfer of all licenses and assets. EnergySolutions and Jingoli, a construction company headquartered in New Jersey, formed a joint venture called ES/Jingoli Decommissioning, LLC, to perform the decommissioning work