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Fuquay Varina, North Carolina, United States
A guy finding out if life really does begin at 50.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Community Day at the Harris Nuclear Plant

Today Progress Energy hosted Community Day at the Harris Nuclear Plant. I live with in the 10 mile radius of the plant and the Harris Plant has been a good neighbor of mine for the 21 years I've lived here. Progress Energy mails me safety information each year which I scan and leave next to the phone in the kitchen. Progress Energy also supplies clean low cost carbon free energy to my home, and along with the other nuclear plants, 40% of the electricity to homes in the carolinas (nuclear power supplies about 20% nationally).

Years ago I had went to the Harris visitor center and viewed the displays. The control room simulator where they train nuclear plant operators was closed on that too long ago visit. The simulated control room is an exact copy to the actual one in use at the Harris plant. Now days the control room simulator is only open to the public this one day a year (generally the last Saturday in August)
, so the chance to take the control room simulator tour made today's visit a must do. The tour is available by reservation for schools and clubs. Kids get to have all the fun!

As luck would have it they were rebooting the simulator during my tour so all the dials, gauges, lights, and displays in the simulator control room were off. I didn't get many pictures this time, but I did get to ask a lot of questions. I also got to see the the computer room that runs the simulator.

Today while I waited for the control room simulator tour to start I visited the booths they had and spoke to the Progress Energy representatives. I learned that their certificate to operate the current reactor at Harris plant has been renewed for another 40 years of operation. I also found out there is 140 years of wet storage in place at the Harris plant. That after 5 years in wet storage that the spent fuel can be moved to dry storage. There is no dry storage at the Harris plant, but I believe that the spent fuel storage problem will be solved in the next 100 or so years. A Traveling Wave Reactor which Bill Gates spoke about at the 2010 TED (Technology Entertainment and Design) conference seems to be very promising solution to the spent fuel problem.

I was pleased to see the solar voltaic sign in front of the visitor center along with a PHEV (Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) Ford Escape. As a BEV (Battery EV) owner I'm a big supporter of EVs and I'm very interested in carbon free ways to produce the electricity needed to charge them. Carbon free renewable energy like the solar voltaic are a part of the answer, but for that enormous base power we need nuclear. Period. So get over it. Go visit a nuclear plant near you. They are a good neighbor and will welcome you and keep you warm on a cold windless winter night.



Major Mom said...

I would have been interested in this while we were still living there. I have a greater-than-the-average-bear knowledge of nuclear energy (and meteorological applications related to it) and I welcome seeing practical (rather than defense) applications of it.

Don Miller said...

Right I'm sure you, Dave and the boys would have like it. I talked to the engineer about the plastic honeycomb material that they had on display. They use that material inside the cooling tower (lower part) to increase the surface area to improve evaporation. Very little of the warmed (~90f) water goes back into Harris lake. The lake water simply recharges the water lost to evaporation, or as I like to think of it - cloud making.