Dresden Generating Station

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Dresden Generating Station
HD.6B.274 (11842857676).jpg
Exterior view of Dresden Station circa 1971
Dresden Generating Station is located in Illinois
Dresden Generating Station
Location of Dresden Generating Station
Country United States
Location Goose Lake Township, Grundy County, near Morris, Illinois
Coordinates 41°23′23″N 88°16′5″W / 41.38972°N 88.26806°W / 41.38972; -88.26806

41°23′23″N 88°16′5″W / 41.38972°N 88.26806°W / 41.38972; -88.26806
Status Operational
Commission date Unit 1: 1960
Unit 2: June 9, 1970
Unit 3: November 16, 1971
Decommission date Unit 1: 1978
Operator(s) Exelon Corporation
Nuclear power station
Reactor type BWR
Reactor supplier General Electric
Power generation
Units operational 1 × 894 MW
1 × 879 MW
Units decommissioned 1 × 197 MW
Nameplate capacity 1773 MW
Capacity factor 99.45%
2016 output 15,446 GW·h
Dresden Generating Station
Control room of Dresden Station circa 1962

Dresden Generating Station (also known as Dresden Nuclear Power Plant or Dresden Nuclear Power Station) is the first privately financed nuclear power plant built in the United States. Dresden 1 was activated in 1960 and retired in 1978. Operating since 1970 are Dresden units 2 and 3, two General Electric BWR-3 boiling water reactors. Dresden Station is located on a 953-acre (386 ha) site in Grundy County, Illinois, at the head of the Illinois River, near Morris, Illinois. It is immediately northeast of the Morris Operation—the only de facto high-level radioactive waste storage site in the United States. It serves Chicago and the northern quarter of the state of Illinois, capable of producing 867 megawatts of electricity from each of its two reactors, enough to power over one million average American homes.

In 2004, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) renewed the operating licenses for both reactors, extending them from forty years to sixty. [1]


Between the 1970s and 1996, Dresden was fined $1.6 million for 25 incidents.

  • May 15, 1996: Lowering water levels around the nuclear fuel in unit 3 [2] reactor's core prompt a shut down at Dresden Generating Station and placement on the NRC's "watch list" that merit closer scrutiny by regulators. Dresden was on the NRC watch list six out of nine years between 1987-1996, longer than any of the 70 other operating plants in the nation. [3]
  • July 15, 2011: Plant declared an Alert at 10:16 a.m after a chemical leak of sodium hypochlorite restricted access to a vital area that houses plant cooling water pumps. [4]

Surrounding population

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission defines two emergency planning zones around nuclear power plants: a plume exposure pathway zone with a radius of 10 miles (16 km), concerned primarily with exposure to, and inhalation of, airborne radioactive contamination, and an ingestion pathway zone of about 50 miles (80 km), concerned primarily with ingestion of food and liquid contaminated by radioactivity. [5]

The 2010 U.S. population within 10 miles (16 km) of Dresden was 83,049, an increase of 47.6 percent in a decade, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data for msnbc.com. The 2010 U.S. population within 50 miles (80 km) was 7,305,482, an increase of 3.5 percent since 2000. Cities within 50 miles include Chicago (43 miles to city center). [6]


Both units are owned and operated by Exelon.

Seismic risk

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's estimate of the risk each year of an earthquake intense enough to cause core damage to the reactor at Dresden was 1 in 52,632, according to an NRC study published in August 2010. [7] [8]


Dresden ... Nuclear ... Power ... Plant ...



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