Rare look inside Braidwood nuclear power plant

It is not every day you get a peek inside a nuclear power plant.

But now that one of Exelon’s two nuclear reactors at its Braidwood plant is down for maintenance, the huge energy company offered to show FOX 32 around.

Perhaps you have seen it in the distance when driving by on I-55, but you have never seen it quite like this. The power coming from two nuclear reactors at the power plant has been online since the 1980's.

The power has been down for a couple weeks -- a scheduled shutdown that happens every 18 months so that workers can tackle a massive laundry list of repairs and maintenance.

"In this outage, there's over 11,000 activities that we have coordinated and choreographed to execute in a 15-day, 12-hour outage,” said John Keenan of Exelon.

Which is why the plant is teaming with 1,400 union contractors from all over the Chicago area.

"You've got carpenters, laborers, millwrights, sheet metal workers, pipefitters, boilermakers, electricians, painters. Just about all the Will Grundy building trades,” said John Janek of Exelon.

Our tour took us to the main control room, which looks like something out of NASA, to a massive building two football fields long, containing six turbines weighing hundreds of tons, turning steam into power.

"The turbines turn at 18-hundred rotations per minute. That's connected to a common shaft to a generator and creates electricity,” said Marri Marchionda-Palmer of Exelon.

Of course, you cannot go to a nuclear power plant without asking one obvious question: is this anything like the Simpsons?

"This is not anything at all like the Simpsons. Our priority is safe operation of the facility. But we do enjoy the Simpsons,” Marchionda-Palmer said.