We’ve all read about the drought in America’s Southeast, and if it doesn’t let up very quickly, some nuclear power stations may have to either cut back operations or shut down temporarily because of a lack of water.
An Alabama reactor had to shutdown for a brief period in the summer, and officials in the Southeast now say it is becoming a crisis.
Water is essential for the operation of a nuclear facility, primarily to cool used steam generated by the nuclear reactors which run the electricity-generating turbines.
Some plants recycle cooling water in what is known as a closed system, so that process doesn’t create a real water problem.
How much water does a plant use? The Harris reactor near Raleigh, N.C., draws 33 million gallons of water a day, with 17 million gallons lost to evaporation in the cooling towers.
Duke’s McGuire plant near Charlotte, N.C. sucks up more than 1 billion gallons a day from Lake Norman, but most of that is returned to the source. The problem there, is that the lakes level is now 93.7 feet, down nearly 5 feet from a year ago. If it drops another foot, the plant may have to cease operations.
The ratepayer in the Southeast may have to eat some high rates if the trend continues. An energy analyst says replacement power would cost 10 times the going rate should plants shut down.
My home state is Illinois, and my hometown a little railroad/farming community named Galesburg.We lived on a small farm during my high school years and I became very aware of nature and it's wonders. I loved the out of doors, working with animals, plowing fields and harvesting crops. Those were very good years.After a stint in the Army during the Korean war my broadcasting career took off at the local radio station, a 250 watt "teapot" as it was called in those days. My first job was as an engineer, then the ham came out and I became an announcer/newsman, graduating after several years to a larger market and a stint as a TV journalist/photographer. Cold, wet weather led me to the southwest where I've lived for most of the last 40 years, with a couple of years out to have fun working as a private investigator in San Francisco, and a few years working in Las Vegas hotels and casinos. In all, its been a real ride.After retiring a few years back I became fascinated with the efforts being made to find alternative energy sources. I've watched our environment deteriorate during my lifetime, and now it's my chance to join the chorus of intelligent and caring individuals making a difference one day at a time.