Byron Nuclear Station open house - – Rockford’s News Leader

Byron Nuclear Station open house


The Byron Nuclear Generating Station is usually heavily guarded, but today they open their doors to the public.

The nuclear facility hosts its annual open house. Folks from all over the region put Sunday football on hold, packed up the kids, and took a trip to the towers.

"A lot of families come in here, they bring their kids. They get to see our control room simulator," said Paul Dempsey, Exelon Communications Manager

The simulator was the main attraction. It's where operators go for training every six weeks to make sure they are prepared for anything.

Information booths also help curious guests learn about the various departments working to keep the nuclear plant running safely. Visitors do occasionally express their nervousness about living near a nuclear facility at events like this.

"As long as we can provide them the information of what we do here, most people go away feeling a lot better," said Dempsey

People like Sandy Sarno, who recently moved to Oregon. Until today, she wasn't familiar with nuclear energy. "Yeah I think it was helpful, more reassuring to be in here and see how well put together it is, the planning that goes into it, and security," said Sarno.

But some, like Stanley Campbell, still have reservations. "Anytime you have little problems popping up that are not being paid attention to, they can accumulate, and can cause a problem, an accident."

He says he's nervous about an event similar to Fukushima happening in Byron. Plant representatives say special actions are taken to prevent anything like that happening around here.

"In response to the Fukushima event, we continue to do a lot of work here," said Dempsey. "Certain kinds of walk throughs we do to check equipment.  Also looking at purchasing more equipment that we can have portable to bring onsite in case we would have like a loss of power event."  
The plant is working on updating the cooling cells in the towers.  The project is expected to last a year.

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