Thursday, June 24, 2010

Where Are the Nuclear Forgings? Track 29!

image2 During the period that the United States slowed construction of nuclear energy plants, the subsidiary companies that did large forgings for such plants also languished. So American concerns needed to go overseas for replacement pieces, leading to multi-ton pieces to be shipped by boat and ever so slowly delivered via flat bed train and truck to their destinations. Here’s an Insight story about a French-made steam generator and its tortuous trip to Three Mile Island.

Wouldn’t it be nice to make these in the United States? Reviving the steel industry here, for whatever purpose, however tentatively, is something that can only be to the good.

The facility is designed to build the world's largest steam and gas turbines for power plants as well as retrofit existing facilities, according to Alstom officials.

On Wednesday, Alstom brought in about 100 customers for a sneak preview of the plant and to talk about energy, said Amy Ericson, vice president market communications for Alstom's power sector.

And where might this be? Chattanooga. Alstom is a French company – here’s its site for the new plant, though be warned it starts playing a video with music when you go to it. The plant does what you want it to do – offer a number of high-paying jobs:

At Alstom, which expects to hire 350 workers by 2013, the jobs will average $75,000 annually, according to the company.

And it answers to the issue of large forgings:

"[Customers] like the proximity of it very much," Ms. Ericson said. "All up and down the middle corridor of the country are some of the largest nuclear and steam facilities."

Mike Pare’s article also expresses the city’s enthusiastic hope that this plant turns Chattanooga into a center for this kind of operation. What can we say? We do, too.

Alstom factory a-borning.

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Pardon me, boy, is that the Chattanooga choo choo?

Track twenty-nine!

Boy, you can gimme a shine? I can afford to board a Chattanooga choo choo. I've got my fare and just a trifle to spare

-- From Mack Gordon and Harry Warren’s song Chattanooga Choo Choo.

choochooIf you think Chattanooga doesn’t take full advantage of that song, you have another think coming. This is the old train station in town, now converted to stores and a hotel all built around the choo choo theme. See here for more. Could be charming, could be overbearing.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is worth noting that ba@k in the day the combustion engineering facility in Chattanooga actually made steam generators and nuclear pressure vessels. The new Alstom plant is certainlly a good thing, but it is not as impressive as the plant which stood at its location 30 years ago. Outside the Alstom plant there is a nuclear pressure vessel sitting unused which was for a plant ordered decades ago and never completed. There are dozens of such vessels at different plants across the US which give a depressing reminder of the downfall of both US nuclear growth and the manufacturing sector.

Plant Hire said...

What was problem with the pieces for nuclear generator energy,OK whatever but the decision to go overseas for the replacement it was a intelligent decision.

Rod Adams said...

Please correct me if I am wrong, but isn't there a bit of confusion here? The Alstom facility will certainly be making big steam plant components, but I am pretty sure they are steam turbines, not steam generators and other pressure vessels.

There are two large pressure vessel facilities under construction in the US, one in Lake Charles, LA by Shaw Group and one in Newport News, VA in a partnership between Areva and Northrop-Grumman.

Anonymous said...

Yes, that was my point, the Alstom plant CANNOT make the same heavy forgings that the combustion engineering plant at the exact same location could make 30 years ago. The pressure vessel located at the Alstom plant was made for a nuke that was long since cancelled. I believe it was one of the Yellow Creek units.