There is actually a very similar thing that occurs with real world nuclear reactors called the "Wigner Effect" and led to the devastating windscale fire before it was fully understood.
What happens is over time stray neutron radiation knocks atoms out of alignment so they are not quite in the exact spot that is perfect for them in their crystal lattice. It was known the neutrons were not strong enough to cause neutron activation to make things radioactive, they were not even strong enough to break atomic bonds so were considered relatively harmless as far as nuclear reactor dangers go. A crystal is very orderly because everything is in its lowest energy state, knocking things out of place adds energy to the system that can build up and up over time until something triggers its release which is what caused the fire when inert non radioactive chunks of graphite suddenly started to self heat. It is a pure physical effect of slight atom misalignment in an otherwise perfectly stable substance and mostly undetectable.
So how do we get rid of it? We anneal things at 250°C for a bit and the energy harmlessly dissipates. The slow build up of Wigner energy is harmless as long as it doesn't go on too long, but the heating to 250° would most certainly be deadly to any life forms that decided to stick around while it is annealed.
The baryon sweep seemed to pretty much mirror this sort of maintenance that needs to happen to anything that sits around a nuclear reactor too long.