Monday, May 22, 2006

The Trojan Cooling Tower Implosion

One big piece of news over the weekend was the long-planned demolition of the cooling tower at Trojan Nuclear Power Plant in Oregon. Click here for video from the local NBC affiliate. I'm not exactly surprised at all the interest, as our own experience with online video here at NEI seems to suggest that folks like watching stuff explode -- or implode, in this case.

One of my colleagues, Trish Conrad, was on the scene to get some equal time in the media for the pro-nuclear message amidst a sea of anti-nuke hysteria. Here's a note she sent me last night:

I did taped interviews with the local NBC and CBS affiliates re: the Trojan cooling tower implosion shortly after an anti rally concluded in downtown Portland. I broke the ice by talking about being from here before we started rolling. Thought it might give me more credibility since I didn't know these people. Started off with the numbers about support nationally and by existing facilities. The reporter made a comment about it being a Republican issue, so I said nuclear power is not a Republican or Democrat issue, gave the Energy Policy Act bite about comprehensive legislation and bipartisan support, and segued into Stewart Brand and Patrick Moore. Did the usual stuff about why the resurgence in nuclear power. They asked about used fuel and Yucca Mountain and I told them we have stored it safely for years, progress is being made on Yucca Mountain and mentioned the legislation currently in Congress, but noted that we are looking to an integrated used fuel management system of which Yucca Mountain is only one component...

Talked about possible new plants here and shared information about the potential COL's on tap and that new plants could be online in 2014 or 2015. After taping, I gave them some background on what's happening abroad and explained the reprocessing issues to them, and noted that nuclear power in WA, CA and AZ takes pressure off sources upon which the NW relies...

My favorite part thing about the opponent's messages was their mixed nature - the cooling tower coming down is a victory, but we wanted to leave it up as a reminder of the failure of nuclear power. Typical.
Here's another in person account of the implosion. And finally, here's an account from the Washington Post.

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13 comments:

Anonymous said...

As a former plant employee, this was sad to see. It came 30 years to soon. The anti’s slap themselves on the back, but what have they done? Now we are burning imported natural gas instead.
The reporters like to use the phrase “closed for economic reasons”. The cheap oil and gas prices of the early 90’s were only a temporary blip. What would it mean today if they made the investment in new steam generators? 1,190 MW sure would have helped the 2000 west coast power shortage. It most certainly would give us lower regional natural gas prices.
PGE’s attitude seemed to be a reluctant nuclear plant owner. To bad they didn’t wait a few more years until the consolidation craze took over. There was some talk of selling the plant, but PGE didn’t even consider the offers credible. I image once some of the other plants started selling they felt a little foolish. They could have at least gotten out of the $420 million decommissioning cost even if they sold it for pennies.
I’m hopeful that this appears to be the last of the kind. I seriously doubt any new ones will close before at least 40 years, and most are headed for 60.

Matthew

Anonymous said...

I went from very impressed and awed watching it to downright ticked off that we will be rebuiding something similar to replace it and as a northwest ratepayer I will be paying for it.

Tim

gunter said...

Funny you should credit the "antis" with this one.

Consumers across the Northwest are still paying for five other "WHOOPS" reactors that never generated one watt, none of which were ever needed that pushed rates up 600%. Washington and Oregon have since passed laws that restrict new nuke construction.

PGE is far more eager to talk about how the company has shifted to wind power and high efficiency gas-fired turbines.

Anonymous said...

>Consumers across the Northwest are
>still paying for five other
>"WHOOPS" reactors that never
>generated one watt,

Never generated one watt? What do you call Columbia nuclear? It is still churning out the megawatts

>none of which were ever needed
>that pushed rates up 600%.

The failure wasn't the choice of energy source; it was the miscalculation of demand. Would it have been better to spend billions on coal plants that weren't needed to default on?

>Washington and Oregon have since
>passed laws that restrict new nuke
>construction.

And the rest of us pay for the stupidity.

>PGE is far more eager to talk
>about how the company has shifted
>to wind power and high efficiency
>gas-fired turbines.

Yep, it's politically correct. The wind power makes everyone feel good but doesn't generate much. High efficiency gas fired turbines? Who cares about the efficiency, they burn imported fuel and spew CO2. PGE touts them as natural gas fired but the dirty secret is they burn a lot of #2 diesel fuel oil too whenever the NG supply tightens in the winter.

Matthew

Anonymous said...

>none of which were ever needed
>that pushed rates up 600%.

One other little thing: I’m serviced by BPA power. I pay 6.5 cents per kWHr. If it wasn’t for WHPPS I would be paying 1.08 cents (600% less) per kWHr? I call BS on your 600% lie.

seamus said...

Pro- and anti- forces can spin this however they want, but this is a non-event for the future of nuclear power in the USA.

gunter said...

I beg to differ on the energy independence claim...

Since our domestic nukes get 80% of the uranium from foreign sources, its hardly an "energy independent" fuel source.

Harvesting hybrid wind and solar coupled with energy efficiency and consersvation provide for true energy independence.

As for building all those nuclear white elephants, the electricity industry is notorious for empire building with exaggerated demand projections, afterall, they are in the generation business. We are awash in over capacity today. More juice means more profits, so why encourage efficiency and conservation. Its no different for the current projections if you discount aggressive efficiency and conservation policies.

As for replacing that one with another, not likely. Wading back into that financial quagmire aside, a big part of Trojan's demise in the original siting on an earthquake fault.

Anonymous said...

>Pro- and anti- forces can spin
>this however they want, but
>this is a non-event for the
>future of nuclear power in
>the USA.

I agree. There seems to be some grandstanding around this event, but it does not relate to the new plants that are going to be built.

The fate of Trojan was set years ago when the reactor pressure vessel was removed. This was only a delayed wake.

Matthew

Ken said...

Re: gunter

The primary sources of uranium are Canada and Australia. I think there's an element of energy independence there compared to oil reserves mainly in Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela.

Paul Primavera said...

With Paul Gunter's agenda, we will still remain subservient to fossil fuels in lands of Islamic extremism. Getting uranium from Canada and Australia is a world of difference from getting natural gas from Russia or oil from Saudi Arabia and Venezula. I continue to maintain that the current war in Iraq and the blood shed therein rests as much upon the shoulders of anti-nuclear activists as it does on big oil conglomerates. Just think of all the reactors generating hydrogen gas or liquid fuels to replace Mid-East oil that we could have built if we had invested in nuclear energy what we have sunk into the sands of Mesopotamia.

And while I certainly favor using renewables to the maximum extent possible, they cannot supply baseload electrical power. The only choices for that are nuclear and coal.

I wonder how much money the Pew Charitable Trusts (remember Pew was the founder of Sun Oil Company) and the Rockefellers (remember John D. started Standard Oil which is now Exxon-Mobil and Jay is a senator from coal-producing West Virginia) have secreted to NIRS / WISE?

30000 lives per year dead from coal. Thousands more lost in the sands of Iraq.

Hmmmm.......think about it.

Anonymous said...

Re: Gunter

Not only is the fresh uranium supply located largly in stable and save countries but the us stockpiles of usable uranium and plutoium must also be huge.
It is certain that america has got some kind of strategic reserve in this field as a matter of national policy (numbers anyone?) and since it does have huge amounts of nuclear warheads you could easily double or tripple this reserve (swords to ploughs in times of need).
Germany does not have nukes and according to the bavarian state ministry we got 5 years of reserves (and a comparable share of nuclear energy in the total electricity production)...
5 years compared to halve a year of oil reserves thats what I call strategic!

Anonymous said...

We have significant uranium resources right here in this country. Where? In the form of so-called "spent" fuel. Reprocessing can recover a significant portion of unfissioned 235U. The 238U can be converted to fissile form using breeder reactors. Using breeder technology can stretch uranium reserves from hundreds of years out to thousands of years (and reduce waste volume to boot, if we go to full actinide recycle). It can be done with a closed fuel cycle as well, as shown by the IFR concept, which was on the threshold of being proven at INL when Clinton cancelled it. There is no lack of uranium reserves in this country. What is lacking is non brain-dead politicians, people who will not stand in the way of reprocessing and development of technology like the IFR.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget all of the U238 sitting as a leftover from enrichment.