MONTICELL0 - Today for our "Behind The Scenes" series on WJON, we give you a rare look inside the Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant.

The first thing you'll notice when you drive-up to the facility is the high level of security.  Spokesman Ray Dennis says no one gets onto the grounds without prior approval. All vehicles are inspected. And your personal credentials are checked and rechecked repeatedly.  Getting inside the nuclear reactor itself requires going through a secure area similar to what you would see at an airport.  An approved employee at the plant also must escort all visitors at all times.  There's also a heavy presence of armed security guards constantly standing watch.

A three-foot thick wall surrounds the nuclear reactor, which eliminates the threat of a plane being flown into the facility.

Another key component is safety.  There are several levels of nuclear safety, with many federal regulations.  Workers and guests wear an electronic device inside the reactor that keeps track of radiation exposure.  When you leave, you have to go through a radiation detector.

Xcel Energy, which owns and operates the Nuclear Generating Plant, is also very proud of it's ties to central Minnesota.  They have a lot of graduates of SCSU's Mechanical and Electrical Engineer programs on their staff, and a lot of their 500 employees live in the Monticello to St. Cloud region.

It began operating in 1971. They have a license to run the plant at least until 2030.