Closure of Three Mile Island

Being formerly of the Nuclear Industry myself, I took note this past week of the permanent shutdown of Three Mile Island (aka TMI). While not the only plant in the northeast to “close its doors” due to it’s inability to compete in that market without subsidies, it’s certainly a notable one due to its role in shaping the current regulatory structure in the US and the world as a result of the accident there.

I’ve wondered more than once, are we seeing a final, slow death of the nuclear industry in the United States - with the final “nail” being the Fukushima accident?

Agree that nuclear is on the way out, but the final nail (in the US), will most likely be unfavorable economics of the “modern” AP1000 design under construction at Georgia Power’s Plant Vogel Units 3 & 4.

Coal fueled generation is probably on the long-term extinction list in the US, also.

[quote=“SlideRuleEra, post:2, topic:1132, full:true”]

Can’t happen any time too soon…


There is considerable interest in modern reactor designs that may be more cost competitive. One area of interest is small modular reactors that can be mass-produced in a factory, delivered on a truck, then returned to the factory for decommissioning or refueling. Molten salt reactors have some interesting features, like a failsafe design that will automatically drain the fuel into multiple sub-critical tanks on the event of a failure. I gather a big issue they are facing is the corrosive fuel mixture.

I’ve never worked in the nuclear industry, but it did pay for my education. My father was a structural engineer in EBASCO’s nuclear division.

@SlideRuleEra - Point well made about the debacle of the AP1000 at Vogtle. As a resident of Georgia, I expect that I and the other Southern Company rate-payers will be subsidizing that failure of execution for a looong time. I understand that the AP1000 has met with moderate success (at least in terms of execution) in Asia, but I’m highly disappointed with the project here (it’s not an isolated incident, to be fair; the completion of Watts Bar Unit 2 was also horribly over-budget…just on a smaller scale).

@Zed - I think the real hurdle with the small modular reactor designs will be regulatory. While the design permits mass-production, will the NRC buy in to that idea? And what level of oversight will be required (at the full expense of the owner/manufacturer)? That alone will likely eliminate any competitive edge which would support the development of that potential new market sector.

Where are the professional associations whose sole purpose is to protect the public… strangely silent about some issues.


Nuclear and coal power generation were a very career for me.

Glad that I have just a few years on this earth left, hopefully before it goes completely to hell