BYRON — A story published in the ‘Japan Times’ newspaper alleges that a power outage last year at the nuclear power plant in Byron was potentially far more serious than first reported. The article alleges that managers at the facility delayed using backup generators for 8 minutes while they investigated the cause of the outage, leaving critical safety equipment inoperable and risking a catastrophic meltdown. Officials at the Byron facility did confirm at the time of the outage that a small amount of radioactive gas did leak from the plant during the incident, but stated that backup generators worked as they should have.
The article also goes on to detail a reported design flaw in the Byron facility it alleges makes it especially susceptible to a catastrophic accident.
The nation of Japan has been keenly interested in the issue of nuclear power safety since a tsunami wiped out the Fukushima nuclear power plant exactly two years ago Monday. While the tsunami initiated the disaster, it was then made worse through poor decision making by the government those in charge of operating the plant, precipitating the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in the Ukraine.
The ‘Japan Times’ reports the Byron plant has a culture that undercuts safety and ignores design flaws it states are ‘Echoes of Fukushima.’
It also acknowledges, however, that the Byron plant is well known for having one of the best safety records of any nuclear power plant in the nation.
We were not able to contact Exelon Energy, which runs the Byron plant before the end of business hours, but will follow up with them on Tuesday for reaction to the article.