Closing of TMI today is an absolute shame | Opinion
- Sep 20, 2019 7:53 pm GMT
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Three Mile Island Unit 1 (TMI) permanently shuts down after 45 years of world-class operation today.
Consistent with its past performance, it completed 709 days of continuous operation prior to prematurely shutting down. This major milestone represents one of the longest operating runs in the history of the nuclear industry. That is a testament to the talented people who operate the plant and to the plant’s stellar condition.
TMI is closing 15 years before its federally issued license expires in 2034. It’s an absolute shame.
If Governor Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania General Assembly would have addressed the widely acknowledged market flaws that unfairly disadvantage nuclear power plants in Pennsylvania, TMI would still be in operation. By doing nothing, Pennsylvania and our local communities are the big losers.
With TMI’s closing Pennsylvania loses 675 permanent, family-sustaining jobs, the state’s largest zero-emission source of electricity, and diversity on its energy grid.
TMI’s community loses a great neighbor that supported dozens of non-profits – through millions in donations and thousands of volunteer hours from TMI employees – and generated nearly a million dollars annually in property tax payments to Londonderry Township, the Lower Dauphin School District, Dauphin County and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
In addition, if TMI was not closing, more than 1,500 highly-skilled temporary workers would be employed at TMI today performing maintenance and refueling operations. They would be staying in local hotels and eating in local restaurants, boosting our economy. Instead talented engineers, technicians and others are leaving central Pennsylvania for other nuclear plants across the country.
Pennsylvania does stand to gain from TMI’s closing, but not in a good way. We will gain more air pollution, more carbon emissions, and a power grid more dependent on gas supplies. Since 2000, TMI Unit 1 has offset a staggering 95 million metric tons of carbon. That’s the equivalent of nearly 20 million cars off the road. In the future, TMI’s 850 megawatts of emission free electricity is being replaced by large gas fired power plants that pollute our air and emit carbon that causes climate change.
And let’s not forget that the gas they use is produced by drilling and fracking operations in our state.
Becoming more dependent on a fossil fuel just doesn’t make sense. TMI’s closing is a cautionary tale for our state’s four other nuclear power stations. If Governor Wolf and the Pennsylvania legislature continue to ignore our state’s broken energy policy that fails to recognize the economic, environmental and reliability benefits of nuclear power, the two-unit Beaver Valley Nuclear Plant in Beaver County will close in 2021. Pennsylvania’s other three remaining nuclear plants could be next. Pennsylvania will quickly lose further ground as a leader in the nuclear power industry that provides billions of dollars of economic and environmental benefits to its citizens.
Closing a nuclear power plant is an irreversible decision, one that will have long-lasting consequences. All Pennsylvanians should be alarmed by this prospect. We can learn from other states, such as Illinois, New York, Ohio, New Jersey and Connecticut, who have adopted zero emission credit programs (similar to credits other carbon-free sources, like wind and solar, receive) – enabling them to keep nuclear plants operating to protect the environment and save thousands of jobs.
While it’s too late to save Three Mile Island, there is still time for the legislature and Governor Wolf to act to prevent other closures across Pennsylvania and protect our economy and our environment. We urge our leaders to take a long-term outlook on our energy policy and pass legislation that will preserve our nuclear power plants for the future of our environment and economy.
Anna Dale is a Londonderry Township Supervisor and a member of the Clean Jobs for Pennsylvania coalition.
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