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What can be done with abandoned nuclear plants via The Bennington Banner

Imagine a summer day in, oh, let’s say, 2050. The sun is shining. It’s about 85 degrees (let’s pretend for the moment that global warming hasn’t turned the earth into an oven by then) with no humidity.

Children are out playing on a swing set in a community park. Nearby, there is a sandbox where kids are digging. On the banks of the nearby river, kids are making mud pies. Moms and stay-at-home dads are chatting on park benches while their children frolic.

The site of this idyllic scene?

Three Mile Island.

The playground is on the former site of Unit 2.

The park extends to areas on the island that once held radioactive fuel.

But that’s all gone now. There is no trace of a nuclear reactor, or cooling towers, or fuel pools. It’s been dismantled, decommissioned, cleaned up, and now it’s a popular public park for Middletown, Pa., residents.

Yes, you guessed it, this is science fiction. None of this seems likely to happen.

TMI, site of the nation’s worst nuclear accident, will eventually be shut down, but it will probably never be returned to a greenfield condition.

Admittedly, FirstEnergy officials don’t really present such a rosy scenario for the site. But at a public meeting about the eventual decommissioning of the facility, officials said the plan is to restore the property to a pre-plant site — at a cost of about $918 million.

That caused local TMI watchdogs to scoff — likely with some justification.

“After 35 years of doing this, let’s be honest, you don’t have the money,” said TMI Alert member Eric Epstein.
Plans to move waste to Yucca Mountain in Nevada appear to be gridlocked by political NIMBYism — and understandably so.

If we can’t solve the fuel disposal problem, how can we even begin to imagine a pre-plant state for Three Mile Island?

The way it looks now, our nation will wind up with hundreds of storage sites at defunct plants — repositories of material that remains radioactive for about 10,000 years (longer than recorded human history).

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