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FirstEnergy in talks to retire Three Mile Island to 'get out of the nuclear business'

Anjalee Khemlani
Senior Reporter
Steam rises out of the nuclear plant on Three Mile Island, with the operational plant run by Exelon Generation, in Middletown, Pennsylvania on March 26, 2019. (Photo by Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)

FirstEnergy Corp. (FE) is working on a deal that will see Pennsylvania’s infamous Three Mile Island — the site of a nuclear accident 40 years ago — dismantled and sold.

The company acquired the site, located near Harrisburg, in 2001, as part of its merger with General Public Utilities (GPU). Three Mile Island has never been active or a part of FirstEnergy’s power generation business, a spokesperson told Yahoo Finance on Wednesday.

GPU Nuclear—which is now a FirstEnergy subsidiary— is negotiating with EnergySolutions Inc to decommission one of the plant’s units. If successful, the deal would remove FirstEnergy’s final nuclear asset, and help the company focus on its regulated power business.

“The term sheet outlines an approach whereby, all the liability for decommissioning, along with the decommissioning fund, the license, the property, the assets, will all be transferred to Energy Solutions, and it will get FirstEnergy out of the nuclear business,” FirstEnergy CEO CEO Charles Jones said on an earnings call.

Any agreement would need the approval of regulators.

“While we are still at the beginning of the process – which requires numerous regulatory approvals – this agreement would transfer future nuclear obligations from FirstEnergy, and further simplify our regulated focus,” he added.

The other unit is owned by Exelon ($EXC), which had already made a decision to retire their unit, according to Jones. Back in April, Exelon filed the decommissioning of its unit, which is currently expected to happen by September.

Plans for the site after it is decommissioned remain unclear. Sources told Yahoo Finance that it could be a future site of renewables, or other energy sources.

The original accident was the source of public anxiety and effectively brought the U.S. commercial nuclear sector to a grinding halt. However, multiple studies have confirmed that there were no lingering health effects for residents in the affected area.