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Braidwood Generating Station Refueling Outage and COVID-19

Braidwood

Addressing Questions About the Braidwood Nuclear Plant Refueling Outage

As Braidwood Generating Station’s Unit 2 refuels during this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, we want our neighbors to know that we have rigorous precautions in place to protect our workers and the local community. Given the number of highly-skilled workers needed onsite to perform the outage, we created this website to provide updates on outage performance and answer any questions you may have. In addition, you can check out the resource section below to find a factsheet detailing the importance of Braidwood’s refueling outage, as well as key information on nuclear power generation. 


Why is the refueling outage necessary?
Braidwood Generating Station’s safe, reliable carbon-free energy plays a vital role in powering the region’s hospitals, health care facilities and federal, state and local response centers as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and more than 2 million homes and businesses in northern Illinois. The plant’s spring refueling outage is critical to ensuring that power will continue to be available to the region as the weather becomes warmer and electricity demand increases. 

The plant’s workforce of highly-trained employees and skilled contractors understand the critical role they play in the refueling outage and are prepared for additional precautions to ensure they remain healthy during the pandemic. 

The Federal Government and the state of Illinois consider Exelon Generation and its workers “critical infrastructure” and we are working tirelessly to protect our employees and communities while keeping the lights on for millions of life-sustaining businesses.

We have strict procedures in place to protect the health and safety of our employees, contractors, and the local community during the outage, and we will continue to share updates with federal, state and county officials. We closely follow CDC guidance to prevent the spread of germs and viruses. 

As part of Braidwood’s comprehensive COVID-19 safety precautions all employees and contractors must pass a symptom screening and body temperature check prior to entering every shift. We’re also requiring social distancing, remote work where possible, frequent hand washing, and increased facility cleaning and disinfection.

And why now?
Braidwood Generating Station Unit 2 must be refueled now because, just like your car needs gas, the reactor needs new fuel to keep running. If the plant is not refueled now, it will run out of fuel and we will be required to shut it down, eliminating a key source of reliable electricity for millions of hospitals, homes and businesses as they fight the pandemic, but also as electricity demand increases this summer

The planned work for this outage also includes required tests and inspections of critical safety systems. These tests and inspections are required by regulatory agencies because of their safety significance and most can only be performed during an outage. We also must replace critical instruments and systems that have a finite life span. 

How are you keeping workers and contractors safe and limiting the spread of COVID-19 in the local community?
Braidwood Generating Station is following a rigorous pandemic preparedness plan that includes strict governance to prevent and slow the spread of the virus. 

Individuals who have traveled to or from states on the CDC restricted list are prohibited from entering. In addition, we reduced 1,000 tasks from the outage’s scope – and reduced the number of people physically onsite by requiring 300 plant workers to complete their work from home. Once a person’s outage job is safely completed they are no longer required to be on site, reducing staffing levels daily.

Prior to reporting to work for their shift each day, every person must complete a pre-entry symptom screening and body temperature check. Anyone with symptoms does not enter the site and is advised to consult with a medical professional. Anyone onsite who is feeling unwell or exhibiting flu-like symptoms must immediately seek medical professional evaluation. 

To ensure that everyone onsite understands and follows our precautions while working and staying in the area, we provided specific instructions to all outage workers requiring them to:
  • Follow State “Stay at Home” orders. 
  • Limit off-shift travel to essential paths only; to-and-from work to home or hotel. 
  • Limit all off-site gatherings and abide by current social distancing guidelines as outlined by the CDC. 
  • Utilize Braidwood’s on-site cafeteria’s “grab-and-go” meals as often as possible and avoid eating in groups. 
  • Use mobile delivery apps with “no-contact” drop-off options to your hotel. 
  • Washing hands frequently while off-duty and sanitizing personal belongings like clothes, cell phones, keys, etc.
  • Sanitize all personal belongings; clothes, phone, keys, credit cards, glasses, shoes, etc. 

Throughout the workday, we have taken precautions to encourage and enforce social distancing on site. 
  • We have installed hand washing stations around the site to encourage frequent hand washing and have also increased cleaning and disinfection of work areas.
  • Wherever employees might congregate, we’ve painted spacing dots on sidewalks and floors to keep workers 6 feet apart. 
  • Wherever possible, we’ve released employees to work from home and staggered shifts to eliminate crowded turnovers.
  • If there are tasks that can’t be done safely, we stop, implement workarounds, or provide additional personal protective equipment like gowns, face shields and masks. 
All these things together are keeping employees and the public as safe as possible.

Resources
To learn more about how nuclear power is generated and the importance of refueling outages:
Watch our full Nuclear 101 Video or check out specific lessons on:

 

Environment 



For additional information about Braidwood Generating Station’s designation as an essential part of our critical infrastructure, visit these sites: