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LaSalle Station to work with robot during refueling outage

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT
(Photo provided)
Rachael Conley, radiation protection operational manager at LaSalle Station, will use a robot during LaSalle Station’s refuel outage for the first time in LaSalle history. The robot will allow supervisors to provide additional oversight for workers from anywhere inside the plant.

MARSEILLES – LaSalle County Generating Station employees will work side by side with a robot that provides additional support to workers for the first time in station history during its Unit 1 refueling outage that began Monday.

The robot will allow workers and supervisors to see and talk to one another through monitors from anywhere in the plant, providing an additional layer of safety for employees performing work tasks, according to a news release from the station.

Keeping workers safe is the No. 1 priority, LaSalle Station site Vice President Pete Karaba said, which is why he is excited to use this technology during the refuel outage and beyond.

“With hundreds of workers and local supplemental workers on site during the refuel outage, we can apply technology that people use in everyday life to help supervisors be in more than one location while providing immediate communication to workers on the job site,” Karaba said in the news release.

“This additional monitoring is another way we are keeping safety at the forefront of our operations,” Karaba continued.

Through the use of this new technology, station technical engineers also are able to connect real-time with industry experts about plant equipment.

“Before this technology, we would have to email still pictures or bring a vendor to LaSalle Station to look at a part or component,” said Rachael Conley, radiation protection operational manager. “Now, we can send the robot into the plant and speak directly to a vendor to get answers instantly.”

LaSalle has two reactors, each of which is refueled once every 24 months. One-third of the unit’s fuel will be replaced and more than 9,500 comprehensive maintenance and testing activities will be performed. LaSalle Unit 2 will continue to generate electricity during the Unit 1 outage.

At full power, LaSalle Station’s two generating units produce more than 2,200 megawatts of carbon free electricity, enough to power 2.3 million typical American homes.

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