Limerick Generating Station

Limerick Generating Station

NRC image of Limerick Generating Station, Units 1 & 2.
Location of Limerick Generating Station in Pennsylvania
Country United States
Location Limerick Township, Pennsylvania
Coordinates 40°13′36″N 75°35′14″W / 40.22667°N 75.58722°W / 40.22667; -75.58722Coordinates: 40°13′36″N 75°35′14″W / 40.22667°N 75.58722°W / 40.22667; -75.58722
Status Unit 1: Operational, Unit 2: Operational
Construction began 1974–1989
Commission date Unit 1: February 1, 1986
Unit 2: January 8, 1990
Operator(s) Exelon
Nuclear power station
Reactor type BWR-4
Reactor supplier General Electric
Power generation
Nameplate capacity Unit 1 + 2: 2,317 MW
Capacity factor 95.9%
Average generation Unit 1: 9,994 GWh
Unit 2: 9,059 GWh
Limerick Generating Station

The Limerick Generating Station in Pennsylvania is located next to the Schuylkill River in Limerick Township, Montgomery County, northwest of Philadelphia. The facility has two General Electric boiling water reactor (BWR) units, cooled by natural draft cooling towers. When conditions are right, these cooling towers emit enough water vapor to be seen as far away as Centralia in Columbia County.

The two units are capable of producing over 1,200 megawatts of power each, which combined would provide electricity to over 2 million households. Exelon Corporation owns and operates this facility.

For critical standby power, Exelon depends on eight Fairbanks Morse Opposed Piston 38D 8 1/8 Emergency Diesel Generator sets that each deliver 3000 kilowatts of power and are capable of achieving rated speed within ten seconds of start.

Limerick Generating Station is running at full power at all times. Unit 2 of the station was scrammed from 100% power to a shutdown on June 1, 2016 at 9am. The reactor was shutdown due to an electrical fault, causing the stopping of the recirculation pumps. The steam bypass valves that lead to the main condenser were opened and Limerick went through a normal hot shutdown process.

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.[1]

The 2010 U.S. population within 10 miles (16 km) of Limerick was 252,197, an increase of 18.7 percent in a decade, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data for The 2010 U.S. population within 50 miles (80 km) was 8,027,924, an increase of 6.1 percent since 2000. Cities within 50 miles include Philadelphia (28 miles to city center).[2]


The site was chosen and plans to build the station were announced in 1969, by the Philadelphia Electric Company (now PECO Energy, a subsidiary of Exelon). It is located approximately one mile south of Sanatoga, PA. Community protests by the Keystone Alliance and other delays pushed the start of construction by the Bechtel Power Corporation to June 1974.

Limerick Unit 1 first attained criticality (began producing nuclear power, at limited capacity) on December 22, 1984 and was certified for commercial operation on February 1, 1986.

Limerick Unit 2 attained criticality on August 1, 1989, and commercial operation began on January 8, 1990.[3]

President George W. Bush visited the Limerick Generating Station in May 2006 to discuss nuclear power and its role in the Advanced Energy Initiative, which he announced at the 2006 State of the Union Address. He toured the facility, including a trip to the control room of the plant.[4]

On October 20, 2014, the NRC granted extensions for Limerick Units 1 and 2 for another 20 years. The units now are licensed to operate until 2044 and 2049 respectively.[5]

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 Limerick was 1 in 18,868, according to an NRC study published in August 2010.[6][7] Following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011, government regulators announced the plant would undergo further evaluations for seismic activity risk.[8]

A quarry is located nearby which occasionally does blasting, however, this is done with the consent of plant staff and so the risk is negligible.

See also


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