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Byron Reactor Shut Down After Two Accidents in Short Time

April 11, 1985

CHICAGO (AP) _ Two accidents in a short time at the $4.18 billion Byron nuclear power plant exposed five workers to radioactivity and forced the evacuation of 300 others, a utility says.

″This created a considerable degree of concern that we had a major event going,″ said Commonwealth Edison division superintendent Thomas McIntire.

But he said no radioactivity escaped from the plant.

″There was no danger to the public at any time and no adverse effects to any of the workers,″ he said.

The mishaps occurred Wednesday while reactor unit 1 was running at 30 percent power, McIntire said.

Several gallons of hot, slightly radioactive water spilled from a holding tank in the plant’s auxiliary building after a valve failure, he said. This released a radioactive mist that enveloped the five workers, whose clothing and skin became contaminated.

McIntire said the workers were cleaned off, and tests showed the radioactivity had not penetrated their skin. They then returned to their jobs.

Nine minutes later, the reactor shut itself down unexpectedly, McIntire said, and the 300 workers were evacuated as a precaution.

He said the reactor is expected to be operating again by Tuesday and should be running at full power by May. The second Byron reactor is nearing completion and is expected to be in service by October 1986.

McIntire said the accidents were not unusual because the plant is in a ″start-up program where problems like these are ferreted out.″

The $4.18 billion plant was denied a license in January 1984, but new hearings were held and federal officials reversed the decision and granted a license in December.

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