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Nine Mile Point opens doors to show public how it operates

Hundreds of people came to Oswego's Nine Mile Point Nuclear Learning Center to get a better understanding of how the power plants work and what employees do each day to keep the plant working properly.

The event allowed visitors, including nine-year-old Ethann Browne, to see first hand how employees are trained in its two reactor simulators.

"I already like researching nuclear power and learning much about it, but I'm here today to learn more about nuclear power from the professionals."

Credit Gino Geruntino / WRVO
Visitors talk with employees from Nine Mile Point during the plant's open house.

One of those professionals is Robert Pellegrino, a quality assurance employee for Exelon Generation. He says workers will spend two years training with the simulators, and during that time they can gain valuable experience.

"It is truly almost an identical model of the plant," Pellegrino said. "There have been times at the plant where we have minor steam leaks over there. We can mirror them over here, and they can see the effects over here."

Pellegrino adds that in this type of environment, employees can perform jobs over and over, until they feel comfortable with what they're doing.

"This simulator gives us the opportunity to let them start up on a core that's in the middle of life," Pellegrino explained. "They can practice over here. And if they don't do it right, or if they don't feel comfortable with it, which is more likely the case, we shut it down and start it up again, and say do it again. And we can do it ten times, 50 times, as many times as they want, so that when they go over and start up the real plant, they are absolutely comfortable."

Credit Gino Geruntino / WRVO
One of the reactors at Nine Mile Point. Employees will spend two years training at the Nuclear Learning Center before going to the plant.

Jill Lyons, an Exelon representative, says visitors asked questions about nearly everything and got to see first hand how operators are trained.

"We're committed to operating our facility safely, and we're also committed to being good community partners," Lyons said. "And we wanted to open up the facility to bring in our neighbors and help educate them about what we do at the facility, and the actions that our employees take everyday to operate the facility safely."

Several departments were on hand to discuss their roles at the plant, including Nine Mile Point's industrial fire brigade and industrial safety teams. Lyons says the company also partnered with the Children's Museum of Oswego, which brought over some interactive exhibits for younger visitors.

"To just enhance the event," Lyons said. "One of our employees is involved with that, so also to help support what one of our employees is doing in the community."
Exelon officials say the open house was successful and that they plan to expand the event next year.

Exelon Generation operates the two reactors at Nine Mile Point and the Ginna Nuclear Power Plant near Rochester.