LaSalle County Station

The LaSalle County Nuclear Generating Station is located just southeast of the town of Ottawa Illinois. The power generated at this facility totals nearly 2.3 gigawatts and powers nearly two million homes and businesses in the Chicago and northern Illinois area. The LaSalle facility is operated by the Exelon Corporation of Chicago. In all, Exelon operates a total of 17 reactors in 10 nuclear facilities. Over 5.5 million customers are provided electricity through Exelon, which formed in 2000, the result of a merger between PECO Energy Company and Unicom.

The two nuclear generating units at the LaSalle facility were built in the 1970s and incorporated a unique design style; there were no cooling towers constructed. Instead water from a 2,000 acre artificially created lake serves as the cooling area for the plant. Each of the units was built with General Electric boiling water reactors. Unit 1 was completed in 1982 and Unit 2 was ready for operation two years later.  The 2010 net generation at the facility totaled more than 19 million megawatt/hr. The LaSalle County Nuclear Generating Station set a world record for boiling water reactors when it operated for 739 consecutive days without a maintenance shutdown.

In 2006 the facility experienced a Site Area Emergency, the first at a nuclear power plant since 1991. It was determined that an instrument failure inaccurately reported three fuel rods not being inserted properly, but later study concluded that there was no danger of increased heat during this incident.

Because LaSalle County Generating Station is a nuclear facility, there were a number of concerns raised by the public during and after its construction. Although there have been no major reactor problems since the plant began operation, it is closely monitored by the U.S. Government and other agencies that focus on safety of the 800 employees at the power station. Of greater concern is the possible use of asbestos during construction and early operation of the complex.

Asbestos fibers are naturally occurring and are a lightweight, inexpensive and easy to manage substance for insulating hot surfaces. Asbestos can easily be made into panels and tiles that are used in power stations to prevent heat exchange and protect employees. Workers who were employed at the facility in its early years may have even worn protective clothing made with asbestos fibers.  Asbestos is a dangerous material that, when inhaled, can lead to mesothelioma and other health disorders. Former employees at the LaSalle County Nuclear Generating Station may have been exposed to asbestos fibers while employed there, but may not yet have shown symptoms of asbestos-related illnesses.