MORRIS, Ill. (Sept. 22, 2010) - Exelon Nuclear commemorated half a century of the nation's nuclear power industry during a celebratory luncheon today, marking the 50th anniversary of Dresden Unit 1, the nation's first privately-financed, full-scale commercial nuclear power plant.
The celebration, held at the Dresden Station Training Building, was attended by public officials, station employees, company executives and several retired employees who worked on Unit 1 when it entered commercial service in the summer of 1960.
"We're proud of the pioneers who worked on Dresden Unit 1, and the roles they played in ushering in the nuclear power industry," said Susan Landahl, Exelon Nuclear Chief Operating Officer. "Although the world has changed a lot over the past 50 years, one thing that hasn't changed is our quest for continuous improvement that those working on Unit 1 did so much to cultivate."
"GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) is extremely proud to help celebrate the birth of America's nuclear power industry at Dresden," said Jack Fuller, Chairman of the Board, GEH. "Dresden Unit 1 is the seed from which the worldwide boiling water reactor fleet grew. Dresden's commitment to nuclear power and its vision to the future have allowed GEH to be a nuclear industry leader. We are forever grateful to the Dresden site and congratulate it on 50 years and counting."
Although no longer generating electricity, Dresden Unit 1 laid much of the groundwork for the present-day nuclear power industry. Built by Commonwealth Edison, Dresden Unit 1 was a General Electric boiling water reactor capable of generating 210 megawatts of emission-free electricity. Construction on the unit began in 1957 and was completed two years later. In October of 1959, the unit achieved its first nuclear chain reaction.
As the era of nuclear power flourished during the late 1960s and early 1970s, Dresden Unit 1's size and design were soon surpassed by the industry's rapidly-evolving technology. On Oct. 31, 1978, the unit was shut down for maintenance. While it was off-line, the incident at Three Mile Island occurred and the ensuing regulations that were enacted made the multi-million dollar investment to bring Unit 1 into compliance economically unfeasible.
Unit 1 is now in SAFSTOR dormancy awaiting decommissioning, which will be completed along with Units 2 and 3 following the expiration of their operating licenses (currently scheduled for 2029 and 2031, respectively). Dresden Unit 1 has been designated a Nuclear Historic Landmark by the American Nuclear Society.
Dresden Generating Station is approximately 60 miles southwest of Chicago. The station's two operating units can produce more than 1,700 megawatts net of electricity.