This was my first cover story for Illinois Times. I visited the nuclear power plant in Clinton, Illinois. This was the second time I’ve had to wear a hard hat while reporting! This was also the first time I’d taken photos in a while, so it was good to get some practice. It was a big adventure, and I’m thankful for the great experience.
Clinton Power Station is a silent sentry at the edge of a 5,000-acre man-made lake, six miles east of Clinton, and about 68 miles from Springfield. Its powder blue dome rises above silos, cornfields and endless country roads with names like “500 North” and “County Road 14.”
Stepping inside the Clinton Power Station is like going underwater. Safety regulations provide for a fair amount of sensory deprivation, between hard hats stamped with Exelon Nuclear’s circular green logo, malleable bright orange earplugs and thick safety goggles. It’s a world of yellowish fluorescent lighting, layers of colored tape along the cement floor (marking where employees can or can’t walk) and the ever-present whir of powerful machinery.
For Bill Harris, the station’s communications manager, walking into the control room of Clinton Power Station is like entering a sacred place.
“It’s like going into the sanctuary of a church,” Harris says. “There’s no fooling around, no loud music, no eating, no reading books. Just silence.”
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