Quad Cities Generating Station

The Quad Cities Nuclear Generating Station is a nuclear power plant located along the Mississippi River near Cordova, Illinois. Both of its boiling water reactors were supplied by General Electric and are rated at 912 MW each. Simultaneously commissioned on December 14, 1972, the licenses for both Units 1 and 2 are set to expire on December 14, 2032. Serving the general Quad Cities area, which includes the municipalities of Rock Island and Moline, Illinois, as well as Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa, the station is owned and operated by Exelon Corporation, a power company that supplies electricity to parts of the upper Midwest and mid-Atlantic. It is one of ten nuclear power plants owned by Exelon and utilizes the same General Electric Mark I containment system as its sister Exelon stations at Morris and Marseilles, Illinois.

Along with the stations at Morris and Marseilles, known as the Dresden Nuclear Power Plant and LaSalle County Nuclear Generating Station, respectively, the Quad Cities Nuclear Generating Station is a member of a generation of nuclear power plants that were developed and fielded from the 1960s into the 1970s that utilize boiling water reactors. Occupying approximately 765 acres along the banks of the Mississippi River, the plant was designed by the engineering firm of Sargent and Lundy. The plant currently has about 900 total employees.

Though certified as safe and currently operating without any sanctions from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Quad Cities Nuclear Generating Station has not operated without incidents. On March 5, 2002, Unit 2 began to experience vibrations in its steam line during an extended power uprate test that was intended to extend the power efficiency of the unit’s BWR reactor. The plant was subsequently shut down on March 29 when high vibrations caused leaks in the turbine control system.

When Unit 2 was restarted on April 2 vibrations caused the main steam pipe drain to break. Repaired and restarted, the main steam lines were again showing unexplained vibrations and had the plant had to again be shut down on July 11. By July 21 the source of the difficulties had been traced to a hole in the steam dryer and the plant was repaired and placed back into operation. After inspecting repairs, the NRC deemed that the extended power uprate was successfully completed.

However, steam pipes may not have been the only hazard at the Quad Cities station.  Many of the nuclear and other power plants built in the 1960s and 1970s made extensive use of asbestos in construction and insulating materials.  While asbestos was successful in protecting equipment and workers from extreme temperatures, it proved to be disastrous to the health of many people who worked with and around it, causing diseases like pleural plaques, asbestosis, and mesothelioma.