Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Not that Clinton

Clinton Power Station, near Clinton, IL, is the first in the state to hand out potassium iodide (KI) pills. These pills are designed to saturate the body with iodine, to prevent uptake of radioactive iodine that could be present in case of a very severe nuclear accident.

This initiative was taken by the state of Illinois. It might just be a coincidence that the Clinton plant is the one that is closest to Springfield, the capital. In fairness that certainly simplifies the logistics - the next closest plant, LaSalle County Station, is about twice as far from Springfield.

But I'm not interested in being fair. It's more fun to suggest that it's to protect their bureaucratic hides, and that they know which site in the state has had the most regulatory trouble.

The problems came about mostly because it was a very big project taken on by a very small utility, and neither the utility (then Illinois Power) nor the constructor (an ad-hoc assemblage called Baldwin Associates) had built a nuclear power plant before. Extreme financial and time pressure, inexperience, high interest rates, regulatory instability, quality assurance program problems, regulatory intervention, asinine court decisions and management that I'll call "dippy hell" have led to a wild ride, which led what was to be a 2 unit plant costing around $400M to become a one unit plant costing over 10 times as much.

But now the plant is in the very capable hands of Exelon Corporation, which runs several sites well and has very experienced management. And they might even build that second unit.

So I'll start sucking up now - some day I might be working for these guys.

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