Limerick Generating Station

The Limerick Nuclear Generating Station is a dual-unit nuclear power plant situated next to the Schuylkill River, in Limerick Township, Pennsylvania. Its two General Electric Boiling Water Reactors have an installed capacity of 1,134 megawatts each. Combined, they produce over 19,000 gigawatt hours of electrical power for the residents of the Philadelphia metropolitan area. Unit 1, which was commissioned in 1986, is licensed until 2024, while Unit 2 which entered service in 1990 and may operate until 2029. Both are entirely owned and operated by the Exelon Corporation, an electrical generation and utility provider that is also the primary commercial nuclear power plant operator in the United States.

Plans to construct the plant were announced in 1969 by the Philadelphia Electric Company, which later merged with Chicago-based Commonwealth Edison to form Exelon, with groundbreaking occurring in 1974 after community protests delayed its construction. The Bechtel engineering group oversaw the design and construction of the facility, with General Electric supplying power generation equipment for both units. Water for the unit’s steam cycle is provided by the Schuylkill River, with excess vapor being released through two natural draft cooling towers. The plant is also equipped with eight emergency generators that were supplied by Fairbanks Morse. In the event that critical standby power is needed, these opposed piston diesel generators can supply the plant with up to 24 megawatts of electricity.

No major safety incident has ever occurred at the Limerick Nuclear Generating Station, let alone an event that could have led to an uncontrolled release of radioactive particles into the atmosphere. Though the site’s radiation meters were triggered in 1984, it was later determined that these readings, which were picked up at the plant’s entrance, were caused by radon a worker was being exposed to at his own residence. The plant is also noted for a visit paid to it by President George W. Bush in 2006. This was to promote his Advanced Energy Initiative.

As of 2010, the plant employed approximately 860 workers, with a payroll of $68 million. Despite its monetary contribution to its community, though, the plants era of construction might have put employees at risk. Unlike nuclear substances, which have stayed contained in this plant throughout its history, the presence of asbestos-containing materials in facilities like this put numerous workers at risk of developing one of the serious illnesses connected to this material. Asbestos is a friable material, meaning when disturbed its particles can fragment and suspend in the air where they can be easily introduced to the body. Once inhaled or ingested, these fibers become secured in the mesothelium, leading to irritation and scarring that will eventually cause diseases like asbestosis and mesothelioma. Although no longer allowed, construction prior to the 1980s, when this regulation began, frequently saw the use of this material because of its inexpensiveness and effectiveness as an insulator.