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NRC Says Three Mile Island Storage Proposal is Safe

February 22, 1992

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) _ There’s no danger in putting Three Mile Island’s damaged nuclear reactor into long-term storage, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said in a report Friday.

GPU Nuclear Corp., which operates the two Three Mile Island reactors, wants Unit 2 put into storage until both plants are decommissioned in 2014.

Unit 2 was crippled March 1979 in the worst accident to occur at a U.S. commercial nuclear power plant. The reactor lost its cooling water and partially melted, releasing radioactive gas into the atmosphere.

Unit 1, not damaged during the accident, was restarted in 1982.

″We don’t want to begin blasting and demolishing one plant while the other one is in operation,″ plant spokeswoman Mary Wells said in an argument for long-term storage.

Long-term storage includes removing hoses and electrical cables to reduce the chance of fire and draining water from the reactor, said Lee Thonus, an NRC project manager and technical adviser.

In finding the storage plan acceptable, NRC staff said in a report that since most of the damaged fuel has been removed from Unit 2, a nuclear chain reaction can’t start accidentally.

The NRC staff’s opinion, released in a Safety Evaluation Report, isn’t the final step. Further NRC proceedings and public hearings on the plan will be scheduled for later this year, said commission spokesman Karl Abraham.

Environmentalists aren’t confident the storage plan is safe.

″This is the same company that told us that there would not be an accident at Three Mile Island,″ said Judith Johnsrud, director of the Environmental Coalition on Nuclear Power.

Ms. Johnsrud said as long as radioactive material sits at the plant, the area is in danger.

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