'Chunk of ice' shuts down Unit 1 at Byron nuclear power plant - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

'Chunk of ice' shuts down Unit 1 at Byron nuclear power plant

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BYRON (WREX) - One of the two units at the Byron Generating Station automatically shut down Tuesday morning, according to an Exelon Corporation spokesman.

Unit 1 shut down at 11:01 a.m., according to Paul Dempsey, who covers Nuclear Communications with the company.

"This did not impact local power service to customers," said Dempsey.

Dempsey said a large chunk of ice was found underneath the unit's transformers leading them to believe an "ice intrusion" interrupted power to it.

"It was a very icy this morning, even in our parking lot," said Dempsey.

Workers have also checked to see if ice is a problem on the still functioning Unit 2 at the plant. 

"Even if Unit 2 went down as well right now, it would not affect local service because of the way it's set up," said Dempsey.

The automatic shutdown is designed to be a safety mechanism, said Dempsey, who said there is no timetable of when Unit 1 will be back online.  He said crews will be working shifts to make the necessary repairs.

According to Exelon's website, "Byron Generating Station, like all U.S. nuclear energy facilities, is based on a “defense-in-depth” design, which means there are redundant layers of safety.  There are multiple layers of safety systems to provide water to the reactor core.  These safety systems, and their backup safety systems, are powered by multiple and redundant power sources.  Nuclear energy plants are built with multiple physical barriers, including thick, steel-reinforced concrete walls around the reactor to contain radioactive materials."

The plant is located in Ogle County about 30 miles south of Rockford.  Together, the units provides electricity for about 2.3 million homes.
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