The Cleanup Effort at Three Mile IslandGao ID: 117345 January 21, 1982
Comments were given on the financial and operational aspects of the cleanup effort at the Three Mile Island (TMI) nuclear powerplant and the potential impact that federal research and development funding could have on the total cost. The latest estimate by the General Public Utilities Corporation (GPU) anticipates that $656 million will be needed during the period 1982 through 1987 to complete the cleanup, and GAO believes this is a reasonable figure. There is the prospect of cost reduction if improved decontamination methods can be successfully employed, but such a reduction may be offset by increased costs in other areas. It is certain, however, that because of inflationary pressures, the current estimate will escalate if the project continues to be delayed. The expected date for completion has already slipped from 1982 to 1987. GPU presently has no internal source for cleanup funds other than the insurance money, but the Governor of Pennsylvania has proposed a plan for sharing cleanup costs among the utility industries, the federal government, GPU and its ratepayers, and the States of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. This is tangible evidence that the concerned parties have accepted some responsibility for sharing in the cleanup costs. The federal government has been involved in the TMI problem since the accident occurred, mainly through the regulatory responsibility of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. During the period 1979 through 1981, five federal agencies committed $275 million for TMI related matters, but very little of this money had been used to directly offset cleanup expenditures. However, the current Administration commitment of $123 million for data acquisition and research and development could directly offset as much as $54 million of GPU-budgeted expenditures. Other reductions have occurred or are expected to occur as a result of Department of Energy involvement. GAO sees a need for the state regulatory commissions and the state legislatures to address the difficulties confronting the GPU companies and to take the appropriate measures needed to help the companies meet their financial and regulatory responsibilities.