Monday, December 24, 2007

Watts Bar

I flew from Dallas to East Tennessee today. The plane turned to follow the Tennessee River north. Then below I saw a wisp of steam. It was coming from a cooling tower. Near the cooling tower were two reactor domes. "Watts Bar," I thought, and sure enough not far distant was Watts Bar Dam. I had never seen either the dam or the reactor before. It was really neat!


Randal Leavitt said...

I just took a look at it too, using Google. In the Google picture it appears that only one of the cooling towers is in use. Is this the normal situation?

Charles Barton said...

Randell, The reason why you see steam from only one tower, is because only one reactor is operational at Watts Bar. Watts Bar Unit 2 is the only reactor in the United States to actually be under construction today. Watts Bar Unit 1 was completed in 1996, and was the last power reactor completed in the United States during the 20th century. The construction of Watts Bar Unit 2 commenced in 1973 and was suspended in 1988, when the reactor was 80% complete. Construction on Unit 2 resumed on October 15, 2007. The reactor is expected to begin operation in 2013. Watts Bar Unit 2 will be the first reactor completed in the United States in the 21st century.


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