LIMERICK — Each spring, operators at Exelon Generation’s Limerick Generating Station take one of the facility’s two nuclear reactors out of service for planned refueling.
Early Monday morning, operators removed the Unit 2 nuclear reactor from service to begin the planned refueling outage — work that is required to support two years of operation for the reactor.
It was not made clear Monday how long the refueling outage will last; a call requesting additional information was not immediately returned. However, Exelon officials have previously said that across the industry, a standard outage lasts on average about 22-30 days.
To help support the effort, more than 1,500 additional workers have been hired — many of them coming to Montgomery County from outside the area. Among the workers are pipefitters, mechanics, carpenters, engineers and technicians. They will work alongside Limerick Generating Station employees.
“Hundreds of Pennsylvania boilermakers rely on the nuclear industry for good-paying jobs, including refueling outage positions like those needed at Limerick right now,” Martin Williams, business manager of Boilermakers Local 13 in Philadelphia, said in a press release. “Pennsylvania's nuclear power plants are not only safe, resilient, reliable sources of clean energy, but also engines of economic activity.”
The temporary workers are expected to have an impact on the area’s economy in the coming weeks, with small businesses in the tri-county region benefitting, according to Eileen Dautrich, president of the TriCounty Area Chamber of commerce.
“As the TriCounty Area Chamber of Commerce, we are leveraging the power of membership to grow and strengthen our community, our businesses and our future leaders. We recognize and thank Limerick Generating Station for the significant impact that their annual refueling outage has on the tri-county region and the strength it adds to the local economy,” she said in the release.
During the refueling outage, workers at Limerick Generating Station will replace about one-third of the fuel in the Unit 2 reactor and will perform more than 16,000 inspections, maintenance activities and other tasks.
“We invest heavily in equipment maintenance and upgrades every year to ensure Limerick Station continues to operate at world-class levels of safety and operational excellence,” Rick Libra, site vice president, said in the release.
At full power, the facility’s two generating units produce more than 2,300 megawatts of electricity, enough to power more than 2 million homes and businesses. For more information about Exelon Generation visit www.exeloncorp.com/companies/exelon-generation.