A Nuke Is Nuked

Three-Mile Island is a nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania. It was the site of the worst nuclear accident in U.S history. Now it’s going bye-bye for good.

In 1979, reactor 2 at the facility had a partial meltdown and released a bunch of radiation. A full meltdown was avoided with only about an hour to spare.

There remains a lot of controversy about this, because officials said that most of the radiation that was released was essentially harmless, and that only a small about of cancer-causing Iodine-131 was released. Other studies showed a more dire result.

In any event, the facility is still in operation. In fact, it is licensed to operate through 2033.

But it will shut down by the end of September, not because of any safety concern, but because of plain ole’ money problems.

Three-Mile had sought significant subsidies from the state. They touted this as way to support carbon-free energy. That thinking had been successful in other states, like New York, New Jersey and Illinois. In Pennsylvania, though, the natural gas lobby aggressively characterized it as nothing more than a bail-out. As a result, the legislature declined to pass subsidies. After that, the operator of the facility, a company called Exelon, announced they would retire it because they couldn’t make any money running it.

The irony is that decommissioning the operating reactor (which is not the one involved in the 1979 incident) will cost over a billion dollars.

Nuclear power is currently the source of about half of this countries carbon-free power, but the industry is in decline. The first new power plant in 30 years is being built in Georgia, but might not ever be completed due to massive costs overruns and delays.

So raise your glass of radioactive waste to the memory of Three-Mile Island. RIP.

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