Morris, IL (near) Dresden Cooling Lake Dike Collapse-Flood, Oct 1972

Cooling Lake Dike Breaks

Morris (near), IL., Oct. 13 - The 1300-acre cooling lake at Dresden nuclear power station was nearly drained this morning when a break developed in the dike.

Commonwealth Edison officials estimated repair efforts at the break in the dike would continue throughout the day, with completion expected within 24 hours.

At about 4:30a.m. today a 50-foot wide break developed in the clay dike at the west side of County Line Road about one-fourth mile south of water across the road, through the adjoining marshland and into the Kankakee River.

Bill Downey of the Chicago office of CE said the break "couldn't have happened at a better place," as there are only a few cottages in the vicinity of the break. According to Cliff Allen, district superintendent, only one cottage was directly affected with 3-4 inches of water running through the home this morning.

Nevertheless, residents of the area were evacuated as a safety measure after the Will County Sheriff's Department was informed of the incident at 4:51 a.m. The number of persons evacuated and the precise area from which the evacuations were made were not available from Will County police, Will County Civil Defense or CE officials. Grundy County Civil Defense volunteers, Morris and Coal City firemen, went to the scene after Mrs. Mae Reagan was called at 6 a.m. and were still at the scene late this morning. Subdivisions in the area include McIntosh and Phelan Acres.

The break resulted in a rise in the river level at Dresden Lock and Dam to just over flood stage at one point this morning, according to stationmaster Daniel Callahan. The dam was opened at 5:45 a.m. after the rise was noticed and by 7 a.m. The water height had increased from 20 to 30 feet and the depth in the lower pool had increased by 44 feet.

By about 10:30 a.m. Back-filling efforts; which began at 7:a.m., were apprently quite effective, according to Callahan, as the river level had dropped from 30 to 16 feet and the level in the lower pool had been reduced by one foot.

An eyewitness to the scene about 10 a.m. stated the bottom of the lake was showing through in places. The possibility of this was confirmed by Downey, who said the average depth of the lake is 10 feet and the water level in the lake has declined by about 10 feet this morning. Water depth at the point of the break, Downey said, is about 15 feet with the dike reaching 5 feet above water level.

The damage was detected by workers at the station during routine instrument checks of the water flow, Downey said. Although damage to the road was undetermined this morning it was closed to traffic early in the day becaue of the water flow.

The break represented no danger to the plant, Allen explained, because water was still flowing through the condensers to keep them cool. The cooling lake was shut down as a method of cooling, but the spray canals were being used.

Cause of the break was undetermined this morning but may have been the result of a crevice or seam in the dike, according to Allen. He added the dike had undergone routine daily inspection Thursday.

A spokesman for the Will County Civil Defense said an all-clear was issued about 10:00a.m. and volunteers left the scene. He added state inspectors were expected at the scene to examine the dike repair for safety purposes.

Morris Daily Herald 1972-10-13