MARSEILLES, Ill. — As a contractor, Jim Orr will never forget his first time at La Salle Station in December 1973.
Although he recalls the long, brisk walk from the parking lot to the plant, what stands out in his mind are the security barriers and safety measures set in place before he entered the nuclear facility.
“It was intimidating to say the least!” Orr recalls with a smile. “Although security in 1973 wasn’t what it is today, it was a completely eye-opening experience to step into the nuclear world.”
Orr, along with more than 1,500 skilled supplemental workers from local union halls, will be supporting La Salle Station for its scheduled refueling outage, which began early Monday morning. This is the 14th refueling outage for Unit 2.
Each of La Salle’s two reactors is refueled every other year on a staggered schedule. One-third of the unit’s fuel will be replaced and 11,672 outage activities will be performed during the outage.
Contractors who are granted access to the plant spend hours training ahead of time for their specific role. Each worker must undergo a series of security-related background investigations and pass a nuclear employee training test, which gives all workers a universal understanding on the expectations and safety requirements of all Exelon facilities, like La Salle Station.
“As a contractor, I know how essential it is to train to the safety standards Exelon has in place,” Orr said. “Maintaining the highest standard in safety in every job that is performed is the way of life in nuclear. That is one thing that hasn’t changed since I walked through those gates in 1973; the expectations are high.”
“We make sure everyone who walks through our door is trained on the proper safety, security and work procedures to execute a safe and efficient refueling outage," La Salle Station Site Vice President Pete Karaba said.
La Salle Station is about 75 miles southwest of Chicago, near Marseilles, Ill. At full power, the facility’s two generating units produce more than 2,200 megawatts around the clock, enough electricity for 2.3 million typical homes.