We've been doing a little work near Al Gore's hometown of Carthage, Tennessee and very close to TVA's monument to folly, the Hartsville Nuclear Plant. That would be the one which after an untold amount of money, maybe a couple of billion, was spent in 7 years of construction on another one of those infamous GE boiling water reactors only to be shut down when TVA decided they didn't need the capacity.
It's a beautiful area with rolling hills, the Cumberland river and great farmland which was only until a few years a major tobacco growing area. Now the unused cooling tower stands as a surreal idol to corporate and government insanity, visible for miles especially when standing in an elevated location.
All I can say is ... whew, that was close. Many of us were none too pleased with the thought of a nuke plant in our area. About 50 miles upriver from Nashville's drinking water, had it gone on line who knows what the outcome would have been. At the least, spent fuel rods would have been accumulating waiting for someone to figure out what to do with them and TVA's power of eminent domain would have had giant transmission lines spreading out in all directions through the farmland. The worst case scenario would be difficult to envision but we all know now what it could be.
Speculation of using the site as an industrial park and even as a private for profit prison never materialized so TVA is still spending a ton of money maintaining the complex which of course becomes part of our monthly electric bill.
Interesting stories about the site have become part of the local lore. Some have come up with it as a HAARP outpost. More about that here and here. I actually talked Sunday to an old friend who works for the same Hartsville radio station referred to in these articles and all he could say was the stories appear to have come from one source, his former boss at the station. It also seems that the alleged eyewitness accounts/recordings of strange goings on there have disappeared from the web so there's no confirmation. Still, you never know. The government possibly could be reluctant to let this expensive site go to waste.
As we were traveling alongside the Cumberland river yesterday, the conversation turned to how strong the currents are and that a swim across the river could well end up a death by drowning. It reminded me of what TVA has been reluctant to pursue ... run-of-river electric generation. Small scale with some environmental impact but nothing compared to coal fired, large dams and nuclear power. With hundreds of miles of river currents not being utilized, why is this not being considered as an alternative?
Anyway, despite the eyesore that the giant cooling tower is upon the countryside, the Hartsville nuclear plant is still my favorite. It's the one that never came on-line.