Nuclear Reactors

The nuclear industry is more than 50 years old. Its history is replete with a colossal financial disaster and a multitude of near-misses and catastrophic accidents like Three Mile Island and Chornobyl. Beyond Nuclear works to expose the risks and dangers posed by an aging and deteriorating reactor industry and the unproven designs being proposed for new construction.



Three Mile Island: What was once too cheap to meter, is now too toxic to clean up

Three Mile Island Alert has put up a billboard in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, warning folks that vigilance is still very much needed, even after the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant's last operating unit shut down for good last Friday.

While de-fueled reactors means a core meltdown is no longer possible, by definition, the high risks have now moved to the high-level radioactive waste storage pools, and irradiated nuclear fuel dry casks. And, as TMIA warns above, hazardous radioactive contamination blankets the site in the middle of the Susquehanna River.

Nuclear corporations Exelon of Chicago, IL, and FirstEnergy of Akron, OH, are currently responsible for the decommissioning phase at Three Mile Island's Unit 1s and 2. Word is, they will "SAFSTORE" the plant for decades to come, before beginning facility dismantlement, and "low-level" radioactive waste and contamination export to a dump someplace else. (There is nowhere for high-level radioactive waste to be shipped off to.)

But nuclear utilities sometimes change their policy on a dime, and move into prompt decommissioning at breakneck speed. In fact, both scandal-ridden Holtec International (and its decommissioning partner, SNC-Lavalin), as well as NorthStar (a consortium which includes Waste Control Specialists, as well as Orano, formerly Areva, of France) claim such prompt decommissioning as their business model.

Vigilance is required. Such firms often seek to drain down already woefully inadequate decommissioning trust funds, as at Three Mile Island, to line their own pockets, and pay unrelated bills. All this, while doing as little actual radioactive contamination cleanup as they can get away with, and taking as many short cuts on safety and security re: on-site high-level radioactive waste management as they can get away with. The fight is on.


Infamous Three Mile Island nuclear plant is closing today

Middletown, PA town council meeting, June 20, 1979. Photo by Robert Del Tredichi, from his book "The People of Three Mile Island" (Sierra Club Books, 1980). Used with permission.As reported by CNN.

Three Mile Island-Unit 1 in PA had been announced by its owner Exelon Nuclear to be closed by May 2018, but this was its bid to leverage a public bailout. After it failed to orchestrate a PA State Legislature bailout, on May 8, 2019, Exelon Nuclear confirmed that TMI-1 would close for good, by Sept. 30, 2019. It is now closing today, for good.

As we have feared, the closure of Three Mile Island Unit 1, for lack of a public bailout, is now being used as leverage to force through bailouts for several other dangerously old atomic reactors in Pennsylvania, as this WGAL report shows.

Beyond Nuclear's founding board member, Dr. Judith H. Johnsrud (1931-2014), intervened against the licensing of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, long before it was built. She did so as a founder and leader of the Environmental Coalition on Nuclear Power. Johnsrud also co-founded Nuclear Information and Resource Service. After she passed on, Beyond Nuclear established the Dr. Judith H. Johnsrud "Unsung Hero" Award, awarded annually during the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability "D.C. Days" to grassroots anti-nuclear activists who embody her spirit, and carry on her work.

Rebutting nuclear industry propaganda, Beyond Nuclear has documented the harm caused to people and the environment by the March 28, 1979 50% meltdown of the Three Mile Island Unit 2 reactor core.

The good news from the TMI-1 permanent shutdown is that, by definition, once the irradiated nuclear fuel is removed from the reactor core for the last time, a meltdown can no longer occur. Also, no more high-level radioactive waste (HLRW) will be generated.

However, watchdog vigilance must continue. The high-level radioactive waste storage pool, as well as the inadequate dry cask storage permitted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, still threaten catastrophic releases of hazardous radioactivity. Also, the radioactive contamination of the site, in the middle of the Susquehanna River, must be cleaned up.

The companies vying for control over decommissioning -- Holtec/SNC-Lavalin, NorthStar, EnergySolutions -- are notorious. They seek to maximize profits by looting decommissioning trust funds, while doing as little radiological cleanup, and taking as many short cuts on HLRW management safety, as they can get away with.


7,286 Megawatts-electric of nuclear power predicted to close down in next three years

As reported by Ken Bossong of the Sun Day Campaign, based on Federal Energy Regulatory Commission predictions.

That would be more than seven large-sized atomic reactors in the U.S. permanently shutting down.

See Beyond Nuclear's REACTORS ARE CLOSING website section, for details on which reactors could well be among those that shut in the next three years.


Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station Closes For Good


Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant In Plymouth Shutting Down After 47 Years