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Loss of Offsite Power” at Byron Station: Backup Generators Operating, Nuclear Unit 2 Automatically Shutdown

Mon January 30 2012 6:36 pm  http://www.arlingtoncardinal.com/?p=50780
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Byron Station Declares Unusual Event
Unit 2 automatically taken offline; diesel generators start as designed

Apparently an electricity transformer failed and interrupted power to the Byron Nuclear Plant in Byron, Illinois — about 25 miles southwest of Rockford. Power was switched to backup diesel generators, and UNIT 2 — a 1,136 MegaWatt Nuclear Power Plant unit was automatically shut down. A fire brigade at the plant responded to a report of smoke at a transformer, but no fire occurred.

Operators at Byron Generating Station declared an Unusual Event at 10:18 a.m. CT, due to the loss of offsite power and Unit 2 coming offline.

The nuclear facility’s diesel generators activated as designed to provide power to the facility when there is a loss of offsite power to the facility. The facility remains in a safe condition. Station engineering experts are looking into the cause of the loss of offsite power.


Byron Station is designed to depressurize to reduce steam pressure as part of the many redundant safety systems built into the facility. Steam from the unit is released through safety relief valves that are specifically designed for this purpose. The steam, which will evaporate quickly, contained expected levels of tritium. Local residents may see or hear the steam release in progress, which will continue throughout the day until the unit cools down. These types of station releases are regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

There is no health or safety impact to workers or to the public from the release, and Exelon Nuclear has notified all appropriate local, state and federal officials of the Unusual Event.

An Unusual Event is the lowest of four emergency classifications established by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Tritium is an isotope of hydrogen with a weak level of radioactivity. It is formed naturally in the upper atmosphere, is a component of rain and is found in virtually all of earth’s surface water. Tritium is produced in greater concentrations in commercial nuclear reactors and is routinely discharged into the environment under strict regulatory guidelines. Tritium eventually breaks down into helium.

Byron’s Unit 1 continues to supply clean electricity to Exelon customers.


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