1. It’s also necessary to consider the effects of the salinity of the steam from cooling towers, and I hope that all relevant technical matters are taken into account and an optimal course of action is adopted. In my not-at-all-humble opinion, however, Exelon should have no problem with adding a cooling tower, because it’s already playing with the house’s money.
    Exelon (as parent of Amergen) paid $10 million for the plant, far and away the lowest price ever for any reactor sale in the U.S.–essentially chump change. I’ll grant that it was something of a gamble, because at the time of the sale (2000) there were only nine years left on the license, license renewal was still fairly new, and the days of early reactor closures ( 1996-1998 ) were recent enough that any small reactor looked iffy. Before the sale, however, GPU had managed to get Oyster Creek’s capacity up into the 80’s, so a decent operational regime was already in place. Even without renewal, $10 million for nine years of good output was a fine investment. With another 20 years now available, the expense of a cooling tower seems like something Exelon could shoulder if it had to. (Again, this is if what we’re mainly discussing is cost; I don’t know the deregulation status of New Jersey, but in Illinois Exelon has gamed the system so that the company auctions nuclear power to itself, and the savings of lower-cost generation never get to the customers. If this is also possible in New Jersey, customers may or may not feel the effects of cooling tower expense.)
    Also, when considering the effects of the next 20 years of operation (in an era in which 90 percent capacity is expected, rationally or otherwise), the effects of the previous 40 years on the surrounding area may not be a completely dependable guide. For about half that time, Oyster Creek was frankly a pretty bad performer (with a capacity factor of about 50 percent over its first 20 years), so there wasn’t the same extent of thermal outflow as there would be now.
    Sorry to go on for so long. I’m just trying to contribute to the discussion.
    –E. Michael Blake

  2. The senate should compare how many people will die if they do not build these proposed towers with how many will die when the fog created by these towers causes accidents on the NJTP just one mile east of the reactor (even less from where they could build the towers. Are they prepared to accept the inevitable deaths caused by these cooling towers? As I recall there was a multicar pileup on an interstate in Texas (Houston or Dallas area) about ten years ago, which was caused by the fog generated by industrial coolers or cooling towers.

  3. I don’t know what caused this, but in the place where my comment somehow included a sunglassed smiley-face, there should be a numeral 8.

  4. Some discussion-board software automatically convert character sequences that look like they are intended to be smilies into images. E.g.
    [Colon Close-paren]: ๐Ÿ™‚
    [Colon Open-paren]: ๐Ÿ™
    [Eight Close-paren]: 8)
    [Semicolon Close-paren]: ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. The satellite photos show a nice residential area. I’m sure there are many residents who are unhappy about the idea of a new landmark like this spoiling the neighborhood and possibly lowering their property values.

  6. What’s the problem here? Concerns about the side effects of heat dissipation. The concern isn’t imminent – it’s been going on for 40 years, and perhaps a win-win solution for both sides can be found. What can the solution be? Find another way to dissipate the heat – but one that is:
    1. less costly for the plant to do than building eyesore cooling towers
    2. stops or lessens the use of the river water.
    There are solutions other than massive natural draft cooling towers, if the concerns are as Michael says.
    In the case of Beznau, Switzerland, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beznau_Nuclear_Power_Plant, the plant was used as the key component of a regional district heating network which has prevented the release of perhaps millions of tons of carbon annually. It brings in a small profit to the plant owner, and it allows the plant to rely less on the river for cooling.
    Now that plant is in a pretty dense area of Switzerland, just as Oyster Creek is in a pretty dense area of New Jersey. I don’t see any reason why a district heating project like was done in Switzerland couldn’t be done in New Jersey. It would require a cooperative effort between both the utility and the environmentalists, though, perhaps a bit less confrontational, where both sides could “win”, instead of one side winning and the other side losing.
    Carbon emissions could be reduced, cooling water used would be reduced, the public would receive low cost carbon free central heating (and with absorption chillers, low cost cooling as well), and the plant might make some money back on the capital outlay as well as demonstrate an innovative way to use waste heat to improve the lives of everyone while lessening the almost zero impact of the plant on the immediate natural environment.

  7. katana0182 – What a great idea! I am truly lucky to have you as a regular reader.
    I am almost embarrassed to admit that I had not – in this case – put two and two together to remind people that “heat” is not a waste product unless it is discharged somewhere that it is not needed. In other places, people pay for heat by the BTU.
    There might, however, be a bit of a challenge in using district heat as the off take because the residents do not always need heat on the coast of New Jersey. Fortunately, there are systems that use waste heat to produce air conditioning, fresh water, or other useful products.

  8. It has been 25 years since I worked at Oyster Creek and I may be mistaken, but I am 95% sure that the plant is NOT on a river. It is near a river, BUT, uses ocean water to cool the plant. Water flows through the manmade canal, to the pumphouse, where a dam prevents water flow past this point. The used water is then dumped on the other side of the dam. Many other plants of this vintage used this (Kewanee and Waterford I think and am not sure at all.) But look around with Google Maps and you will see several that pump water from the lake/ocean and back. Some use a canal, some tunnels (Nine Mile Point – for certain, as I walked in it out under the lake), and some just a pier/embankment, like Waterford, clearly seen on Google Maps.
    SOoo, what is the problem with Oyster Creek?

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