BYRON (WIFR) -- From flooding, to severe weather, Byron's nuclear plant has added millions of dollars in new equipment to make sure the facility can better handle tornadoes and other major events. The changes come two years after a tsunami and earthquake set off a crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, in Japan, causing three reactors to melt down and spew radiation.
Since the tsunami, top U.S. regulators say American power plants, like ours in Byron are safer than ever, but not necessarily trouble-free. The chair of the nuclear regulatory commission says all but five of the nation's 104 reactors were performing at acceptable safety levels at the end of last year.
"We have been operating this plant for 25 years safely and we are in the process of applying for a 40 YEAR license,” said Paul Dempsey.
Byron's plant will receive more upgrades this spring, includng a mass refueling operation, expected to bring in more than two thousand workers. While employees say after thorough examinations, everything appears to be safe, a watchdog group called the "Union of Concerned Scientists" disagrees saying nearly one in six U.S. reactors had safety breaches last year, due in part to weak oversight.
"A good portion of our employees live around the plant. They take great pride in making this a great facility and a safe facility.”
The plant’s security measures were also upgraded, more so after 9/11. The Byron facility has added more fences, among other things.