Three Mile Island nuclear plant was the site of the worse nuclear accident on American soil back in 1979. 40 years after the accident, it looks like the nuclear plant may be shutting down.
Exelon Corp., the company that owns Three Mile Island nuclear plant, announced plans to shutter the facility by 2019. According to Exelon, the plant hadn't been profitable for nearly five years. To add insult to injury, it wasn't able to auction off energy production for the third straight year in an effort to keep the plant afloat.
In a statement released on Exelon's official website, CEO Chris Crane addressed the decision to shut down the plant.
"Today is a difficult day, not just for the 675 talented men and women who have dedicated themselves to operating Three Mile Island safely and reliably every day, but also for their families, the communities and customers who depend on this plant to produce clean energy and support local jobs," Crane said.
"Like New York and Illinois before it, the Commonwealth has an opportunity to take a leadership role by implementing a policy solution to preserve its nuclear energy facilities and the clean, reliable energy and good-paying jobs they provide," he continued.
What Crane is talking about are the subsidies New York and Illinois approved to provide nuclear plants, expanding each state's portfolio of clean energy providers. The hope is that Pennsylvania could extend these same subsidies to Three Mile Island to keep it open. As of right now, this money has largely gone to natural gas and renewable sources like solar, wind, and hydro with no indication that nuclear would be added to that list.
This is just another step in the declining nuclear field. While Illinois and New York have committed money to maintaining nuclear plants, others are facing challenges from cheaper electricity costs and the alternative energy sources mentioned above. While nuclear is a clean source of energy and has no carbon emissions, the catch has always been the risk and danger involved with nuclear power. Five states have already shuttered nuclear plants with even more scheduled to be shut down in the next few years.
Given the growing sources of alternative energy, it also calls into question the necessity of nuclear energy in today's world. The 1979 accident is an example of this risk and reward that no one wants to commit to now. Due to human error and equipment problems, one of the reactors suffered a partial meltdown. The surrounding area was evacuated in a worse case scenario, and warnings were sent to New York City as well. Thankfully nothing happened, but this and the Chernobyl meltdown a few years later highlight the risk of nuclear power. Given the state of the world today, it may be time to say goodbye to the nuclear age.