Chris Gent over at the Conway blog shared his thoughts on his tour of the Crystal River 3 nuclear plant in Florida:
The energy complex is the second largest power-producing facility in the nation and the largest east of the Mississippi. The sprawling facility covers 4,700 acres and generates nearly 3,200 megawatts of electricity. One megawatt serves approximately 800 homes so we’re talking about a plant output that serves nearly 2.6 million homes!
The complex is comprised of four coal-fired units and one nuclear. These units came online in 1966 (Unit 1), 1969 (Unit 2), 1977 (Unit 3), 1982 (Unit 4) and 1984 (Unit 5).
Before I begin my overview of the tour, let me tell you that security at the facility is beyond intense. I’ve visited the U.S. Capitol and the White House and the security there is elementary compared to what it takes to enter this complex.
Because the U.S. doesn’t permit the reprocessing of used nuclear fuel, nuclear plants are required to store their entire supply of spent fuel onsite. The amazing thing is that all the fuel used in the plant’s 31 years of operation sits at the bottom of this pool and could easy fit inside a semi tractor-trailer. There simply is not much leftover waste with this type of plant.
I walked away from today’s tour with a new appreciation for nuclear power. Here are some of my observations:
• Nuclear power has a good safety record (no U.S. fatalities in nearly 50 years).
• It decreases our dependency on imported oil.
• It’s economical – roughly 1/3 to 1/6 the cost of fossil fuels
• It does not emit pollution or Carbon Dioxide gas (CO2). With no emissions it reduces the amount of greenhouse gases.
• Unlike what has been portrayed on TV by Homer Simpson, the plant employees are all professional, highly-trained individuals.