Nuclear Facility Safety
Remote Monitoring of Nuclear Power Plants
The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) conducts real-time environmental and radiological monitoring of seven nuclear power plant sites in Illinois which includes 11 commercial nuclear reactors and three permanently shut down nuclear facilities. The IEMA Remote Monitoring System (RMS) is an advanced, integrated, computer-based system that continually monitors selected plant operational parameters at each commercial nuclear power plant facility and is capable of identifying and measuring the presence of radioactive materials in the surrounding environment. The unique, one-of-a-kind RMS consists of three separate subsystems: the Reactor Data Link (RDL), the Gaseous Effluent Monitoring System (GEMS), and the Gamma Detection Network (GDN). The Reactor Data Link (RDL) receives over 1000 key parameters every minute from each operating reactor. The Gaseous Effluent Monitoring System (GEMS) provides automatic, on-line, continuous sampling of each nuclear power plant effluent stack(s). The Gamma Detection Network (GDN) consists of a series of detectors placed radially around each of the nuclear power plants to detect gamma radiation levels in the environment. The RMS data is used in performing an independent accident assessment and an independent off-site consequence analysis, the results of which are used in determining protective action recommendations for the public.
Radiological Emergency Response
The Radiological Task Force (RTF) responds to nuclear power plant and other radiological emergencies in Illinois. The RTF consists of two components, the Radiological Emergency Assessment Center (REAC) in Springfield and the Radiological Response Group (RRG). REAC provides an independent assessment of the event, develops dose projections, and provides protective action recommendations for the public to the State Emergency Operations Center. To confirm the projections performed in REAC, RAFT personnel are dispatched to the affected area to measure radiation in the environment, collect environmental samples, ensure contamination control and sample chain of custody, analyze samples and coordinate with other field responders. The RTF also sends personnel to monitor members of the public for radioactive contamination at Reception Centers opened by the Red Cross. RTF personnel are also available to assist the hospitals in establishing contamination control protocols to prevent the spread of contamination throughout the facility and assist with surveys of a potentially contaminated patient, without interfering in any medical treatment.
Nuclear Facility Inspections
The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) conducts three types of inspections related to commercial nuclear power plants in Illinois. The first, the Resident Inspector (RI) Program, is responsible for conducting inspections of all facets of nuclear power plant operations. A full time inspector is assigned to each plant. The second inspection program is the Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code Compliance Program, which works to ensure that pressurized systems at nuclear power plants in Illinois meet state and federal standards and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Code. The third inspection program involves quarterly joint inspections with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA). These inspections ensure compliance with state statutes and that radioactive releases are reported to the State.
Nuclear Facility Inspections
Over 440 nuclear power reactors generate about one-sixth of the world's electricity. Over 100 power reactors generate about 22 percent of the Nation's electricity. Eleven operating commercial nuclear power reactors at six sites generate about 50 percent of Illinois' electricity. There are also three commercial nuclear power reactors no longer operating: two at Zion and one at Dresden. In addition, there is an inactive reprocessing facility near Morris, Illinois.
In Illinois electricity is generated by two types of power reactors: Boiling Water Reactors (BWRs) and Pressurized Water Reactors (PWRs). BWRs are located at the Dresden, Clinton, LaSalle, and Quad Cities Stations; PWRs, at the Braidwood and Byron Stations.
Spent (used) nuclear fuel from commercial power reactors in Illinois is stored on-site at each nuclear power plant. About one-third to one-fourth of the fuel assemblies are replaced with new fuel every two years during a refuel outage. The majority of the spent fuel is stored in specially designed Spent Fuel Pools. After several years of storage in the Fuel Pools, the spent fuel assemblies are being transferred to specially designed on-site storage casks.