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TMI back on line after 12-day maintenance project

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An evening view of the cooling towers at Three Mile Island Generating Station on the Susquehanna river in Dauphin County.
An evening view of the cooling towers at Three Mile Island Generating Station on the Susquehanna river in Dauphin County. - (Photo / )

Three Mile Island Generating Station returned to service Monday night following a 12-day pump-maintenance project.

Officials with Chicago-based Exelon Generation, which operates the facility, said workers had successfully repaired one of several pumps that provide water to the reactor. The pumps help maintain proper temperature levels.

The unit was taken off-line Dec. 1 for the planned maintenance project, which could not be performed while the plant is in operation, the company said.

The plant "was completely offline and therefore did not generate revenue," Exelon spokesman Ralph DeSantis said, but there was no impact to the power grid as a result.

First opened in the early 1970s, the Dauphin County power plant produces enough electricity for more than 800,000 homes, Exelon says.

Its future has come under question in recent years, however, as changing market conditions in the power industry have caused some nuclear plants to struggle in the U.S. and abroad, with the burgeoning shale gas industry and falling prices for commodities creating stiff competition.

TMI’s profitability has faltered, as the plant has struggled to sell its power to the Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Maryland Interconnection grid, or PJM, which serves 13 states.

Exelon also operates Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station in York County, which has had more success. The company this year announced it plans to seek an additional 20-year operating license there.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission employs resident inspectors at nuclear plants throughout the country, including TMI and Peach Bottom. Their duties include regular oversight of operations, including repair projects such as the one just completed.

Inspectors at TMI took CPBJ on a tour earlier this year and talked about their role at the plant.

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Roger DuPuis

Roger DuPuis

Roger DuPuis covers Cumberland County, manufacturing, transportation, distribution, energy and environment. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at rogerd@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @rogerdupuis2.

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