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Three Mile Island's infamous nuclear plants shut down after 45 years



However, this does not mark the end of the overall story, as it will take decades to clean up. Some of the demolition will happen quickly. The staff will remove the reactor's fuel supply over the next few weeks and store it in the spent fuel pool. However, it will take much longer for the reactor to be completely out of operation. Exelon estimates that the plant will not be completely clear for radioactive material until 2078, or more than a century after it was put into operation. Unit 2 is expected to close in 2036.

Unit 1

has been relatively safe, with the only notable incident being an air pressure change that briefly exposed 20 employees to a mild amount of radiation. However, the reactor has long lived in the shadow of Unit 2, whose partial decomposition exposed nearly 2 million people to radiation. There do not appear to have been any public health effects, but the incident led to stricter scrutiny and, together with the Chernobyl disaster, defined the public perception of nuclear energy.

Exelon was not shy when she tried to blame local authorities. It argued that Pennsylvania law "does not support the continued operation" of the reactor, and that rules "fail to value clean energy resources evenly" while dirty power sources can "pollute for free." It does not believe that nuclear is given a just shake compared to renewable energy and other clean energy sources, in other words. It has also complained about low natural gas prices, which makes Unit 1 difficult to drive.

What might happen next, but the odds are not high for a revival. While nuclear is relatively clean, the increase in both renewable energy and natural gas has reduced demand for it. Like it or not, the industry has moved on – closure is a symbol of that transition.


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