FAQ

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WHAT IS THE CURRENT CONDITION OF TMI-2?


Following the TMI-2 accident in 1979, approximately 99 percent of the fuel and damaged core debris was removed from the reactor vessel and associated systems and shipped to DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory. Since 1993 when the initial cleanup of the plant was completed, TMI-2 has been in a condition known as Post Defueling Monitored Storage (PDMS). The plant is safe, stable and is being monitored.




WHY WOULD TMI-2 SOLUTIONS WANT TO PURCHASE TMI-2?


TMI-2 Solutions’ parent company, Energy Solutions, Inc. is a global leader in nuclear reactor decommissioning. Energy Solutions provides high-level waste management, spent fuel handling and transportation, and complex decontamination and decommissioning services, including the decommissioning of commercial nuclear power generation facilities. TMI-2 Solutions is wholly owned subsidiary of Energy Solutions.TMI-2 Solutions has been established for the purpose of maintaining and decommissioning TMI-2 in the best interest of the community and the environment.




WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS TO DECOMMISSIONING TMI-2 VERSUS KEEPING IT IN MONITORED STORAGE?


  • There are a number of significant benefits to proceeding with the decommissioning now instead of waiting. They include: taking full advantage of the knowledge and experience of subject matter experts familiar with the 1979 accident and that participated in the initial cleanup who are still available but will soon be retired; leveraging the significant technological advancements have occurred in the last 30 years, many resulting from the Fukishima Diachi accident recovery that can now be applied to TMI-2; removal of more than 90 percent of the radioactive waste and disposing of it in an engineered licensed disposal facility and safely packaging the remainder of the radioactive material in high integrity storage canisters for eventual shipment to a DOE facility enhances safety; removal of plant structures that are more than 40 years old and showing signs of degradation is more protective of the environment; and progressing the decommissioning now creates good jobs locally that can help offset the loss of jobs from the recent closure of TMI-1.




WHAT ABOUT TMI-1? DOESN’T IT MAKE SENSE TO DECOMMISSION BOTH UNITS AT THE SAME TIME?


EnergySolutions decommissioning both units would be the most efficient approach. We recently completed a similar two-unit project at the Zion Nuclear Plant in Illinois and are performing another two-unit project at San Onofre in California. However, if Exelon retains ownership of TMI-1 we will work closely with Exelon to minimize any impacts between the two projects.




WHEN DID YOU BECOME THE OWNER OF TMI-2?


We finalized the deal to purchase TMI-2 from First Energy on Dec. 18, 2020 after we received approval from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to transfer the nuclear license to us.




WHAT OTHER NUCLEAR PLANTS HAS ENERGYSOLUTIONS DECOMMISSIONED?


EnergySolutions has completed the physical decommissioning of the Zion Nuclear Plant in Illinois, the largest nuclear decommissioning project completed in the U.S as well as the La Crosse Nuclear Plant in Wisconsin. In addition, the company is in the process of decommissioning the Ft. Calhoun Nuclear Plant in Nebraska and the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in California. We will bring the extensive experience and lessons learned from these projects to TMI-2.




WHY IS TMI-2 SOLUTIONS CHOOSING TO FULLY DECOMMISSION TMI-2 NOW RATHER THAN JUST KEEP THE PLANT IN MONITORED STORAGE?


We have experienced staff and decommissioning subject matter experts who are currently available due to the recent completion of the Zion and LaCrosse decommissioning projects that can be deployed to TMI-2 enhancing the execution of the project. Also, progressing with decommissioning now removes the facility and its radioactive components and achieves a timely site restoration which is a more desirable status for the site and the community.




THE PARENT GUARANTEE APPEARS TO BE AN ABSOLUTE GUARANTEE THAT DECOMMISSIONING OF UNIT 2 WILL NOT FALL ON THE BACKS OF RATEPAYERS/TAXPAYERS, BUT THAT ENERGYSOLUTIONS WILL COVER THE TAB IF THE FUND AND THE OTHER ASSURANCES ARE NOT SUFFICIENT. AM I READING THAT CORRECTLY?


Yes, EnergySolutions will guarantee that no additional ratepayer/ taxpayer funds are needed to complete the Unit 2 decommissioning.




WHAT IS THE PLAN FOR THE FINAL DECOMMISSIONING OF THE PLANT? WONT IT BE DIFFERENT THAN OTHER PROJECTS BECAUSE OF THE ACCIDENT THAT HAPPENED THERE IN 1979?


Yes, the decommissioning of TMI-2 will be different and we are planning accordingly. Initially we will keep the plant in PDMS for a period of about 1.5 to two years while we perform the necessary engineering, licensing, and project planning actions necessary to begin the decommissioning safely. The first phase of the decommissioning will involve safely removing and packaging the remaining one percent (about 2,500 pounds) of damaged core debris from the plant. This process will involve using remote technologies and robotics. It will be a well-controlled process with safety as the overriding consideration. When completed, TMI-2 will be in a condition similar to a normal nuclear plant. At that point the final phase of the decommissioning will be done which involves removing the plant structures including the cooling towers and completing the TMI-2 site remediation.




HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO COMPLETE THE DECOMMISSIONING OF TMI-2?


We estimate that after we transition from PDMS that it will take about 7 to 8 years to remove and package the damaged core debris from the plant and perform other decontamination work to place the plant in a normal condition. After that we expect it will take about another 7 to 8 years to dismantle the plant. At this point we expect the entire project to be completed in 2037. This is 17 years earlier than the current schedule. Please keep in mind these are estimates and could change as we complete the detailed planning.




JACZKO IN THE SAME BRIEFING ALSO RAISED AS A “POLICY QUESTION” WHETHER COMPANIES LIKE ENERGYSOLUTIONS THAT WOULD SEEK TO RETAIN THE UNUSED PART OF THE DECOMMISSIONING FUND AS PROFIT ARE REALLY ENTITLED TO DO SO, OR WHETHER THIS UNSPENT MONEY SHOULD HAVE TO GO BACK TO THE RATEPAYERS. HOW DOES ENERGYSOLUTIONS VIEW THAT?


If a company such as EnergySolutions assumes the full risk of the project with no future access to ratepayer funding to cover the costs of project overruns, then it is appropriate that such companies should be allowed to retain any underruns that may exist at the completion of the project.




WHAT ARE THE POTENTIAL NEW RISKS TO OUR HEALTH AS TMI-2 IS DECOMMISSIONED? WHAT MEASURES ARE YOU TAKING TO MONITOR PUBLIC HEALTH AND PREVENT HEALTH RISK TO OUR COMMUNITY?


There will be no new risks to the public health and safety from the decommissioning project. We will implement robust industrial safety and radiological controls during the work to protect the workers, public and the environment. On-site and off-site environmental monitoring will be performed in accordance with local, state and federal requirements, including continued monitoring by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Results of the monitoring will be made public




IS IT SAFE FOR PEOPLE TO ENTER THE REACTOR BUILDING? I HAVE HEARD THE RADIOACTIVE LEVELS INSIDE THAT BUILDING ARE EXTREMELY HIGH.


The Reactor Building was successfully entered after the accident and TMI-2 Solutions will carefully plan for further entries, supporting demolition and waste removal planning and operations. The plans will be done with worker safety as the highest priority. The TMI-2 decommissioning will be completed in accordance with strict worker exposure limits set by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.




WHAT ROLE WITH THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA PLAY IN THE DECOMMISSIONING?


TMI-2 Solutions is working with the Pa. Department of Environmental Resources (PADEP) and other state agencies to ensure we are total compliance with all applicable regulations and permits. In addition, TMI-2 Solutions will keep PADEP updated regularly on the status of decommissioning.




WHAT DOES "RELEASING THE SITE" MEAN - ARE WE TO TAKE RELEASE OF THE SITE FOR UNRESTRICTED USE LITERALLY - NO RESTRICTIONS AT ALL AS FAR AS WHAT THE LAND COULD BE USED FOR IN THE FUTURE?


Releasing the site for unrestricted use means the site radiological contamination will have been removed to the point the NRC no longer requires restrictions to protect the public. Note that a small portion of the site will still be restricted while small amounts of core debris remain in an Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation until DOE retrieves it.




IN MAY 2019 IN A BRIEFING BEFORE CONGRESS FORMER NRC CHAIRMAN GREGORY JACZKO CHARACTERIZED COMPANIES SUCH AS ENERGYSOLUTIONS AS COMPANIES THAT HOPE TO MAKE MONEY BY ACQUIRING THE NUCLEAR DECOMMISSIONING FUNDS (UP FRONT) AND THEN BY DECOMMISSIONING FASTER AND AT LESS EXPENSE, KEEP WHAT IS LEFT IN THE FUND AS PROFIT. HOW DO YOU VIEW THAT CHARACTERIZATION?


EnergySolutions is a company that performs decommissioning and radiological waste management as a core business. The acquisition of a shutdown nuclear plant transfers both the risks (potential cost overruns) and potential upside (cost underruns) to the purchaser.




HOW MUCH WILL IT COST TO DECOMMISSION TMI-2?


The projected cost to decommission TMI-2 by 2037 is anticipated to be $1.06 billion (in 2019 dollars). The current funds in the existing TMI-2 Nuclear Decommissioning Trust (NDT) fund provide adequate funding for decommissioning when accounting for fund growth over the decommissioning term.




HOW MUCH MONEY IS IN THE NUCLEAR DECOMMISSIONING TRUST FUND? WHAT IF THE FUND RUNS OUT OF MONEY?


Currently there is approximately $877 million in the NDT. Accounting for fund growth over the term of the decommissioning the fund will be sufficient to complete the project. Moreover, TMI-2 Solutions will have access to additional decommissioning funding assurance instruments worth up to $100 million dollars throughout the most critical phases of the project, as well as a Parent Guarantee for the duration of the project.




HOW MANY PEOPLE WILL BE EMPLOYED AT TMI-2 DURING THE DECOMMISSIONING?


The decommissioning will be done in various stages each involving a different number of workers. We expect at its peak that the project will employ between 200 and 300 people. Our intention is to hire as many local workers as possible and to maximize the services and support of qualified local vendors and contractors.




WILL TMI-2 SOLUTIONS HAVE OTHER CONTRACTORS WORKING ON THE PROJECT?


To perform the decommissioning work on this project EnergySolutions and Jingoli, a construction company headquartered in New Jersey, formed a joint venture called ES/Jingoli Decommissioning, LLC. Jingoli successfully managed and executed nuclear projects on behalf of numerous utilities in the United States and Canada with experience in the nuclear field from pre-construction, construction management, project controls and decommissioning.




WHERE WILL THE RADIOLOGICAL WASTE BE STORED?


All of the low-level radioactive waste will be shipped to our waste disposal facility in Clive, Utah. Some material may be sent to a facility in Texas. The damage core debris will be packaged in high-integrity storage cannisters similar to those used for normal spent nuclear fuel. Because the federal government has not licensed a centralized storage facility, the cannisters will be stored on site along with spent nuclear fuel from TMI-1. This is the case with all nuclear power plant sites in the U.S. Once the government fulfills its promise to have a centralized storage facility in operation the cannisters will be sent there.




IS IT SAFE TO STORE THE DAMAGED FUEL ON AN ISLAND IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SUSQUEHANNA RIVER AND WHAT ABOUT SECURITY?


Yes. The damaged core debris will be stored in a high-integrity storage cannisters in a specially designed facility known as an Interim Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI). This facility will have full-time security and will be engineered and designed to be protected from natural events. Most nuclear plants in the U.S. have similar facilities. These facilities are regulated and licensed for use by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.




WHAT IF UNIT 1 IS NOT DECOMMISSIONED BY THE TIME UNIT 2 IS TO BE DECOMMISSIONED? HOW IT BE POSSIBLE FOR THE UNIT 2 SITE TO BE PUT TO ANOTHER USE, OR IS THAT NOT POSSIBLE UNTIL UNIT 1 IS DECOMMISSIONED? AS YOU KNOW, THAT MAY NOT TAKE PLACE UNTIL THE EARLY 2070S, UNDER THE PLANS CURRENTLY SUBMITTED BY EXELON TO THE NRC.


It is most efficient to decommission both interconnected units at the same time. However, if Unit 1 chooses to remain in long-term SAFSTOR, then we have a plan in place to decommission Unit 2 separately. However, the Unit 2 portion of the site would not be available for future use until Unit 1 is decommissioned.




HOW WILL THE LOW-LEVEL WASTE BE TRANSPORTED TO UTAH AND WILL PEOPLE BE EXPOSED TO RADIATION FROM THE SHIPMENTS?


The low-level waste will be shipped by rail and truck. Low-level radioactive waste shipments are under strict regulations set by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and by federal and state transportation agencies. EnergySolutions is the most experienced transporter of radioactive material in the US and safety is our number one priority. People are not expected to be exposed to radiation during the shipments due to the packaging and other safety precautions.




HOW MANY TRUCKLOADS ARE GOING TO BE TRANSPORTED ON LOCAL ROADWAYS/RAIL TO DISPOSAL?


There will need to be further evaluations, surveys and studies completed in order to determine how much waste will be generated during the decommissioning project. However, shipment of large volumes of radioactive material will not occur until the second phase of the project, scheduled to begin in 2029.




HOW IS RADIATION CONTAINED DURING WASTE SHIPMENTS FROM TMI TO THE ENERGYSOLUTIONS DISPOSAL SITES?


Low level radioactive waste shipped from TMI to the EnergySolutions disposal site in Utah will be carefully surveyed to ensure they meet strict NRC and Department of Transportation (DOT) packaging, shipping and radioactive requirements. The low-level waste will be containers with additional shielding as necessary.




WILL ANY NORMAL, NON-RADIOACTIVE DEBRIS BE SENT TO LOCAL LANDFILLS?


That is certainly an option. Many of the structures and components at TMI-2 are not radioactive, the cooling towers being one example. We will work with state and local officials to determine a safe and economical way to dispose of this material in accordance with all federal, state and local regulations.




WILL THERE BE A NEED FOR AN OFFSITE EMERGENCY PLANNING PROGRAM FOR TMI- 2 DECOMMISSIONING?


Because 99 percent of fuel was removed from TMI-2 analysis shows that there are no events which could result in a release that would jeopardize public health and safety. TMI-2 falls below any limits established by the federal government for Protective Action Guidelines used by operating nuclear power plants. Therefore, there is no need for an offsite emergency planning program.




WHAT DOES "RELEASING THE SITE" MEAN - ARE WE TO TAKE RELEASE OF THE SITE FOR UNRESTRICTED USE LITERALLY - NO RESTRICTIONS AT ALL AS FAR AS WHAT THE LAND COULD BE USED FOR IN THE FUTURE?


Releasing the site for unrestricted use means the site radiological contamination will have been removed to the point the NRC no longer requires restrictions to protect the public. Note that a small portion of the site will still be restricted while small amounts of core debris remain in an ISFSI until DOE retrieves it.




HOW MUCH IS THE AREA THAT WOULD BE SET ASIDE FOR WASTE STORAGE FACILITIES - CAN THAT BE FURTHER DEFINED OR QUANTIFIED?


The waste storage facility and surrounding fences typically take up approximately 5 acres. This area would remain restricted until the US Department of Energy retrieves material.




HOW IS REUSE OF THE UNIT 2 SITE POSSIBLE WHEN THERE WILL STILL BE HAZARDOUS WASTE - DEBRIS MATERIAL - STORED THERE ON PART OF THE SITE FOR MANY YEARS?


The site outside of the ISFSI is zoned for industrial use and will be safe for future industrial or commercial application.




CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE PROCESS FOR DECOMMISSIONING TMI-2?


The TMI-2 decommissioning will be completed in two phases. Phase 1 will last about 8 years and will focuses on planning and engineering activities, and remediation of the areas impacted by the 1979 core-damage accident. The overall goal of Phase 1 is to reduce the radiological source term at TMI-2 to levels that are generally consistent with a nuclear plant toward the end of its operational life that has not experienced a core-damage accident. The first 4-5 years under Phase 1 will be preparation for decommissioning, including engineering work, procurement of long-lead time items, and infrastructure upgrades. Specific Phase 1 decommissioning objectives include: -Reducing the reactor building source term. -Reducing the source term and removing the damaged core debris from the reactor vessel. -Reducing the source term of large components by removing damaged core debris. -Packaging, transporting, and storing the damaged core debris. -Removing, packaging and transporting the Class B and C radioactive waste for disposal in Texas. Phase 2 will involve work generally typical of a nuclear plant that did not experience an accident. This phase will last about another 8 years. The overall goal of Phase 2 is to decommission the TMI-2 site to a level that permits the release of the site, except for an area to be set aside for waste storage of the damaged core debris. Specific Phase 2 decommissioning objectives include: -Removing, packaging, and disposing of all remaining systems and equipment in preparation for structural demolition and transporting the Class A radioactive waste in Utah. -Demolishing and dispositioning all plant structures to nominally three feet below grade. -Demolishing the cooling towers. -Performing the surveys to verify the site is clean -Backfilling the site to the existing grade elevation. Phase 2 is expected to complete in 2037.




SOME CLAIMS HAVE BEEN MADE THAT THE RADIOLOGICAL CONDITIONS INSIDE TMI-2 ARE A MYSTERY AND NOT FULLY UNDERSTOOD BY ENERGYSOLUTIONS. IS THAT TRUE?


No not at all. In fact, we have current information on the radiological conditions throughout the plant and key areas are continuously monitored to detect any changing conditions. Because TMI-2 has been dormant for several decades, conditions inside the plant have been stable and predictable for quite some time.




WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE CORE DEBRIS AFTER IT IS REMOVED FROM THE PLANT?


The remaining core debris (less than one percent of the original total) will be recovered from TMI-2 and packaged in canisters and cask systems like those used for storage of spent nuclear fuel at other nuclear plants. Because the U.S. Department of Energy has not licensed a national spent fuel repository the casks will be stored in an Interim Waste Storge Facility along with the spent nuclear fuel casks from TMI-1. We expect that the TMI-2 core debris will be stored in about a dozen casks. All the other radioactive waste generated during the decommissioning will be shipped to a licensed low-level radioactive waste facility in Utah or Texas.




WILL TMI-2 SOLUTIONS ESTABLISH A TMI-2 COMMUNITY ADVISORY PANEL FOR ITS DECOMMISSIONING PROCESS?


YES, WE HAVE FORMED A COMMUNITY ADVISORY PANEL (CAP) THAT CONSISTS OF A DIVERSE, CROSS-SECTION OF THE COMMUNITY. WE VALUE OUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE COMMUNITIES AROUND TMI AND BELIEVE THE CAP WILL PROVIDE US WITH AN OPPORTUNITY FOR EFFECTIVE TWO-WAY FLOW OF INFORMATION. THESE MEETINGS ARE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC AND WE POST AGENDAS AND REPORTS ON OUR WEBSITE. WILL TMI