NRC issues final environmental report on license renewal of Byron Station, Ill., nuclear power plant

Byron Station nuclear power plant in Illinois
Byron Station nuclear power plant in Illinois | U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has published its final report detailing the environmental impacts of renewing the operating licenses of the Byron Station nuclear power plant in Illinois, concluding that the impacts would not preclude renewing the plant’s licenses for an additional 20 years.

Paul Dempsey, communications manager for the plant, said Unit 1’s license is due to expire 2024 and Unit 2’s license is due to expire 2026. “This license will extend 20 years beyond 2024 and 2026,” he said.

“We’re excited,” Dempsey continued. “Byron, along with the rest our Exelon-owned plants, produce 90 percent of the state’s power. We feel it’s important to keep them up and running; we’re running at 90 percent [capacity] or better during the hottest summer or coldest winter.”

Now reaching its final stages, this was a process five years in the making, Dempsey said. “We do as much as we can in advance; that gives the reviewers time to conduct its review.”

"We agree with the report. They basically said our application is strong and shows nothing is wrong with renewal. It also shows we’re keeping our plant running safety and efficiently,” he said.

Renewal is also good news for the plant’s employees and stakeholders, Dempsey said. “Here in Ogle County our plant employs 850 well-paying jobs. Area communities benefit as well due to the direct economic impact from taxes we pay and our employees living in the area and spending their money in those towns.”

Dempsey added there was nothing in the report that raised any red flags with NRC or Exelon. “We did not find anything significant in the report that would cause us to change anything we are doing, we’re ending the process now and it’s looking good for the plant,” Dempsey said.

Of all the Exelon plants in Illinois, Dempsey said the Braidwood plant, located in Braidwood, Ill., is the only other plant going through the same renewal. “Braidwood is running along a similar timeline as us. If its report hasn’t come out yet, it will soon."