Illinois nuclear power plants must submit emergency response plans

NRC requiring all U.S. plants to update proposals following Japanese earthquake

May 11, 2011

Steve Edwards and AP Wires

(Flickr/Keith 011764)
Steam rises from cooling towers at the Byron, IL nuclear power plant.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is demanding that operators of the 104 U.S. nuclear reactors, including those in northeast Illinois, submit detailed information about how they plan to respond to extreme emergency situtations, including a possible terrorist attack.

NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko said Wednesday the agency will require operators to submit by June 10 details about plans, equipment and personnel in place to respond to such vents.

Illinois is home to more nuclear reactors than any other state in the nation.  Add in nearby facilities in Wisconsin and southwest Michigan, and the total number of nuclear power plants is 10. Click here for a map of the region's nuclear power plants.

"We’ll review the plants’ responses to see if they need to take any additional actions to meet our existing requirements, along with seeing what the NRC might need to do to enhance those requirements and continue to protect public health and safety,” said Jaczko.

The agency has required nuclear power plants to prove their ability to respond to terrorism since the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, but officials began updating emergency response requirements following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that triggered a nuclear crisis in Japan.

“Our task force examining information from the Japan quake will also go over the Bulletin responses as part of its ongoing review of our requirements,” said Jaczko.

Jaczko said officials want to ensure those strategies still work and that employees at nuclear plants know how to carry them out. 

Operators will be required to provide more detailed information by mid-July.