Posts Tagged ‘nuclear power plants’


Visiting Vogtle and Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plants

September 6, 2011

The control room in Unit 2 at Plant Vogtle, August 12, 2011, just before 5:00PM. Reactor controls at left, balance of plant on the right. The reactor is at full power. A routine maintenance and refuelling shutdown is planned for the Fall.

The American South is widely seen as the most viable US market for new nuclear power plants.  Although the “nuclear renaissance” faces serious obstacles in the post-Fukushima world, if reactors are to be put on the grid then the South is almost certainly where it will happen first.  Dominion’s North Anna plant, which I visited in 2009, plans to add an ESBWR. This August 12th and 15th I accompanied Atlanta fusion hobbyist Chad Ramey, his father, and friend Steven Shaw to two other southern nuclear nurseries. Plant Vogtle (pronounced “VO-gel” in local dialect) is an operating two-unit Westinghouse PWR plant of recent vintage that is adding two additional Westinghouse AP1000 reactors.  Bellefonte Nuclear Generating Station, by marked contrast, is a 37-year-old never-completed Babcock and Wilcox PWR plant with two units, one of which TVA elected to complete by unanimous vote of its board on August 18.

Nuclear power plants are some of the most uptight and inaccessible places on the planet unless you work there, so I’m grateful to Mike McCracken at Plant Vogtle and to Chris Griffin at TVA for accommodating us.  I’m especially indebted to Mike for all the photos from Plant Vogtle.   (Unfortunately there is a strict no-photography policy in place at Bellefonte, so my gallery contains just two exterior shots.  However, we visited the reactor vessel head, a steam generator, spent fuel pools, a cable spreader room, and the well-preserved ’70s-vintage control room, among many other parts of the plant.)  Click any image below for a larger version with caption.


Back from Chernobyl

June 19, 2010

I just returned from a week-plus vacation to Ukraine, where I spent three days in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone with three of the best folks one could ever hope to get stranded with in a radiological wasteland: Mike Coffey, Chad Treloar, and Edward Geist.  We spelunked through pitch-black hospital basements in Pripyat amidst firefighters’ clothing emitting a quarter of a roentgen per hour of gamma radiation.  We toured parts of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.  We ate good food, pondered the relics of late Soviet society left behind in schools and civic centers, and just had a roaring good time.  The Geiger counters had a “roaring” good time also.  I’ll be posting photos and videos on our travelog at, so please follow our efforts there.  Also, please visit the personal blogs of my companions:

Edward Geist:

Chad Treloar:

Mike Coffey isn’t as into personal bloggery as the other three of us, but we’re indebted to him for running the group travelog.

%d bloggers like this: