Published on January 23rd, 2008 | by Max Lindberg

Water Shortage Could Dry Up Nuclear Power Plants in Southeast


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.

Source: MSNBC

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About the Author

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.

  • Perfect opportunity for next gen closed cycle high temperature gas cooled reactors such as the PBMR.

  • Pingback: Nuclear Plant Credited for Saving Endangered Crocodiles : Planetsave()

  • This throws out the window of the political views that the solutions is atomic power plants and along with unproven clean coal technology when the water well runs dry due to climate change .
    We need true competition within the market place.
    The decision will lie with the paradigms shift in thinking against a centralized form of an energy delivery systems to an new approah of an de-centralized energy system.
    Not one big power plant or one big oil company serving but the many of independent green technologies applications.

  • Max Lindberg

    Thanks, Eric for the comment. I checked out the two blogs you listed, and was surprised at the defensive attitude of the bloggers.

    I urge anyone who reads these comments to have a look and form their own opinion on the remarks. In any case, thank you for the comment.


  • There are so many problems with this story it’s hard to know where to start. Follow these links to get the whole story this time, instead of one that demonstrates nothing but a basic misunderstanding of the science and engineering involved in these issues:

  • Max

    Right on, David.

    Jim 47: I tend to agree with you on the population issue. As gruesome as it sounds, your “answers” may be the solution. History has proven that through war and pestilence we’ve managed not to overpopulate the earth. If everyone had lived and had families, we probably wouldn’t be here, or at least standing shoulder to shoulder on someone’s shoulders without a bite to eat or water to drink.

    But hey, sex rules.

    Thank you both for the comments.

  • Jim47

    And water shortages will also cut hydroelectric power, and/or increase rates for it. This is a real problem, which is why California’s nuclear plants are on the ocean.

    Again – not that I want to keep flogging the dead horse, but I really feel that I need to – the problem isn’t nuclear power, or coal-fired, or water shortages, or anything else; the real problem is too many people on Planet Earth. Maybe war (and pestilence) really *is* the answer? Tongue-in-cheek, folks, but Mother Nature might not be that humorous.

  • Sounds like the Southeast is primed for some cost-effective, distributed renewable energy!

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