Zion Nuclear Power Station

Zion Nuclear Power Station

Zion Nuclear Power Station was the third dual-reactor nuclear power plant in the Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) network and served Chicago and the northern quarter of Illinois. The plant was built in 1973, and the first unit started producing power in December 1973.[1] The second unit came online in September 1974.[1] This power generating station is located on 257 acres (104 ha)[2] of Lake Michigan shoreline, in the city of Zion, Lake County, Illinois. It is approximately 40 direct-line miles north of Chicago, Illinois and 42 miles (68 km) south of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The Zion Nuclear Power Station was retired on February 13, 1998.[1] The plant had not been in operation since February 21, 1997, after a control-room operator inserted the control rods too far during a shut down of Reactor 1 and then withdrew the control rods without following procedures or obtaining supervisory permission.[3] Reactor 2 was already shut down for refueling at the time of the incident. ComEd concluded that the plant could not produce competitively priced power because it would have cost $435 million to order steam generators which would not pay for themselves before the plant's operating license expired in 2013.

All nuclear fuel was removed permanently from the reactor vessel and placed in the plant's on-site spent fuel pool by March 9, 1998. Plans were to keep the facility in long-term safe storage (SAFSTOR) until Unit 2's operating license expires on November 14, 2013. Decontamination and dismantlement were to begin after this date. The estimated date for closure was December 31, 2026.[1]

On August 23, 2010, it was announced that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the transfer of Exelon's (ComEd's parent company) license to EnergySolutions of Salt Lake City. The company will begin the 10-year process of dismantling the site, and will eventually haul away pieces of the plant to its property in Utah. During the dismantling process, spent fuel will be transferred from the spent fuel pool into dry casks and placed into a newly constructed Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI). The cost of these operations is expected to reach approximately 1 billion dollars. After this is complete, Exelon will resume responsibility of the site, including the ISFSI.[4]

On February 14, 2013, a small fire broke out at the shuttered Zion nuclear plant, but authorities said it was put out with one extinguisher and there were no radiation leaks or risks to the public. Workers involved in the decommissioning of the plant were using torches to cut bolts when some grease began to smoke and produce small flames, said Mark Walker of EnergySolutions, the contractor handling the decommissioning.[5]

The power plant is the tallest structure in Lake County.[2]

Unit 1Unit 2
Operating status Permanently closed Permanently closed
Reactor type Pressurized water[6] Pressurized water[6]
Reactor manufacturer Westinghouse[6] Westinghouse[6]
Generation capacity 1,040 megawatts[6] 1,040 megawatts[6]
Operational date June 1973 December 1973
Closure date January 1998 January 1998


  1. 1 2 3 4 Zion Units 1 & 2, 2008-04-08, retrieved 2008-06-29.
  2. 1 2 Zahorik, Ralph (2008-06-20), "Public weighs in on Zion nuclear plant proposal", Chicago Tribune.
  3. "NRC NEWS". nrc.gov. 1997-09-03. Retrieved 2009-03-22.
  4. Exelon hands off closed Zion reactor, 2010-08-23
  5. "Fire Dept. says no risk from small blaze at Zion nuclear plant". Chicago Tribune. 2013-02-14.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Zion, 2007-08-09, retrieved 2011-03-20

Media related to Zion Nuclear Power Station at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 42°26′47″N 87°48′11″W / 42.446428°N 87.803003°W / 42.446428; -87.803003

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