1. There are indeed painted cooling towers that are in operation.

    The smiley face cooling tower does not exist (in real life). The one I’m talking about is the Cruas plant in France. You can see some of the mural here:


    I’ve worked on the Wikipedia article on that plant, and I can say that we USED to have an absolutely beautiful gallery. But sadly they got deleted eventually because someone didn’t put the right copyright info in it. Such is the problem with free licensing, apparently this was done because France does not have “freedom from paranoia” laws. Apparently not. But the Cruas plant is alive with healthy capacity factors and 4 full-sized reactors.

    I’m really happy to hear an artists perspective of things. I’m very familiar with the Asheville/Boone area. I think the environmental movement there shows a lot of the problems with the concept in general. All ‘sustainable’ products have the prerequisite that it has to allow people to keep feeling good about themselves to keep the tourism money flowing. The economy primary lies in monetizing the pleasing nature of the environment. It is thus little surprise that it’s near impossible to put up a wind turbine there.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing the Cruas plant images! I sincerely hope that I have the opportunity to give our nuclear fleet (or at least part of it) a much needed makeover! I have some pretty big ideas that would fit just perfectly on a cooling tower!

    This kind of fun, community oriented artwork would be an opportunity to bring attention to some of the really great things happening in the industry like: new small modular reactor technologies (reduce), relicensing of many plants (reuse), and down-blending weapons materials into spendable fuel (recycle)!

  3. Umm, I regret I put it that way. I hold you in high esteem for many reasons.

    I just am accustomed to a better argument from you than that.

    I mean, “I just am accustomed to a better argument from you than that, sir.”

    1. Reese – there were many topics discussed during the show. Can you be more specific about the portion that you thought needed improvement? The basic topic here was that the nuclear industry could do a better job of marketing its product. Do you think the industry has no room for improvement in its communications effort?

  4. I think that modifications in the external design of nuclear plants can help a great deal with public perception of nuclear power. Those things DO matter, although pure engineering types may scoff at this. To be realistic, the NRC has a long list of things they are concerned about, and design is not even on that list.

    * paint cooling towers, bury ugly transmission lines in the ground

    * futuristic designs, round shapes, ferrocement, … imagine if a nuclear plant was designed like the Sydney Opera House ! There is tremendous untapped potential in improving public perception.

    * local adaptations, emphasizing local resources and community (e.g. limestone, red bricks, elaborate masonry …)

    * do something ecologically useful with hot wastewater (e.g. hotwater artificial wetland); water coming out of a nuclear plant is not only hot but also rich in oxygen, attracting fish. In cold climates, the waste heat could also heat year-round greenhouse ecospheres such as the Eden Project: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eden_Project

  5. I saw another painted cooling tower in Germany, not sure what plant (not necessarily nuclear, but the towers are the same no matter the fuel).

  6. I came back here as I was cleaning up old links and I think that it would be fun to talk about painting structures more given what has transpired since.

    The Fukushima Daiichi plants had clouds painted on their containment buildings (outer one of course). In retrospect, was this a good idea? It seems that the iconic imagery that came from the event was the wireframe left after the Hydrogen explosion and the clouds… really didn’t matter. I would venture to claim that not mattering in a negative light would be a positive in this case. If one paints “SAFE” all over the external of a power plant, then well… the media would problem love that in any event that something goes wrong.

  7. I just heard this podcast and I think I have another interesting mural on a building linked to the nuclear industry.

    Below is a link to the site where The Netherlands keep their used fuel and radwaste from medical and industrial use. The building itself is the place where high level waste is stored.

    The mural depicts the Einstein formula, reminding people of the energy in nuclear fuel. Every time the building gets a new coat of paint, it will be painted in a lighter colour, till it will be white in a hundred years, indicating the time that the site will be functioning until a definitive choice is made what to do with the ‘waste’. And I seem to remember that is was a statement that the radioactive materials inside would grow less dangerous over time. I don’t have a reference or link for that, though.

    They are very busy with art and exhibitions by the way.

    Here’s their link http://www.covra.nl/ if you like a look. It has an English version, but there you won’t find their news articles about their hosting exhibitions.

    Link to a better picture of the building.


  8. Correction on my first post: The Netherlands only store the fission products of the used fuel. It is reprocessed in La Hague in France,and the fission products come back to be stored here.

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