(Add details, background)
NEW YORK Oct 22 The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory
Commission on Thursday renewed the operating license for Exelon
Corp's 786-megawatt Unit 1 at the Three Mile Island nuclear
plant in Pennsylvania for an additional 20 years until 2034.
The current license for Three Mile Island 1 expires April
The sister unit at the plant near the Pennsylvania state
capital of Harrisburg created worldwide headlines in 1979 when
it partially melted down in the worst U.S. nuclear power
The accident made Three Mile Island synonymous with the
dangers of nuclear power and helped stop expansion of the U.S.
nuclear industry until the recent slow-moving "nuclear
Exelon, the biggest nuclear power operator in the United
States, did not own Three Mile Island at the time of the
Since 2000, when the NRC approved its first 20-year license
renewal, the Commission has granted new licenses for 55
reactors, including Three Mile Island. The agency is now
evaluating 13 applications for 20 units.
There are 104 reactors operating in the United States.
Exelon filed for the renewal in January 2008. It usually
takes the NRC about 22 months (November 2009) to make a
decision without a hearing and about 30 months (July 2010) with
a hearing. There were no hearings requested and none granted on
the Three Mile Island application.
The NRC uses the renewal process to determine how an
operator will manage the aging of a reactor. It is a two-step
process, including a safety and environmental review.
The Three Mile Island 1 reactor, which entered service in
1974, is located in Middletown in Dauphin County about 10 miles
southeast of Harrisburg.
One megawatt powers about 800 to 1,000 homes in
Exelon, of Chicago, owns and operates more than 38,000 MW
of generating capacity, markets energy commodities, and
transmits and distributes electricity to about 5.4 million
customers in northern Illinois and southeast Pennsylvania and
natural gas in the Philadelphia area.
(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Christian Wiessner)