MORRIS, Ill. (IRN/KMOX) – A nuclear energy watchdog wants us to be aware of the dangers associated with nuclear power plants.
Illinois has 14 nuclear reactors, 11 of which are still in business generating electricity. And they’re old, says David Kraft, executive director of the Nuclear Energy Information Service. “Our reactors in Illinois first started coming online in the late ‘60s, early ‘70s,” he said. “We have Dresden I, which is now closed. Dresden II and III came on-line around 1970, 1971. They were followed by the two Quad Cities reactors – same design as Fukushima – they came on around ’72-’73.”
They were licensed for 40 years when they opened, though a 20-year extension is common. Kraft says there has been some modernization along the way, but usually to fix problems, not to prevent them.
Meanwhile, Exelon says it has “layer upon layer of safety systems” to protect its Dresden nuclear power plant from a disaster if there’s an earthquake.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission asked plant operators to recalculate seismic risks based on new geologic assessments, and the result is a higher danger at Dresden that previously thought. A spokesman for Exelon says the risk analysis is faulty because it doesn’t take into account plant upgrades.