Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Culverts

This is the Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant.   Well actually I guess that I should say the Turkey Point Electrical Generation Plant since there are also fossil fuel electrical generation here as well.   There are four electrical generating units.   The two blue structures on the left with the smokestacks behind them are the fossil fuel units designated unit 1 and unit 2.   The two round cement structures on the right are the nuclear reactors designated unit 3 and unit 4.   A lot of electrical generation here.   But what is unique about the Turkey Point plant is the cooling method of the units.    We are always use to seeing those hyperbolic-shaped cooling towers which are associated with nuclear power plants.
But at Turkey Point a cooling canal system is used.   The canal system has a shape like a giant car radiator.
The water comes out of the plant in a discharge canal which functions much like the top of a car radiator and distributes the water to the cooling canals which is like he core of the radiator where the cooling actually takes place.   Then the cooled water is collected in a return canal much like the bottom of a car radiator and is carried back to the plant to start the cycle all over again.   In the picture below you can see the temperature of the water cool as it flows from the top to the bottom of the cooling canals. 
 A very simple and effective design.   Fortunate also.    I sometimes wonder how much damage that the intense Hurricane Andrew would have done to a cooling tower.
There was a canal that was outside of the cooling canal system and had nothing to do with the cooling canals.   Since coral rock is porous and this canal is in close proximity to the cooling canal system, samples were taken from it and checked for radioactivity.   The water flow was tidal in nature.   Flowing out at low tide and flowing in at high tide.    There was three large culverts where a road passed over the canal.   This was a beautiful area and for a time was one of my favorite spots.
I use to stand on the culverts and bend down to the waters surface to get water samples.   I had done that for about a year when I happened to mention it to one of the biologists.    He strongly recommended against standing on the culverts because there was a large 11 foot crocodile who would get up close to the culverts and grab fish in her powerful jaws as the fish were carried through the culverts by the tide.   How did they know that it was a female?   I have no idea but biologists seem to know those things.
He said that there were both alligators and crocodiles in the area but that this one was a crocodile which he said is bad because crocodiles are more aggressive than alligators.   The first time that I saw this crocodile she was in the water and only inches from the bank watching me.   Waiting for me to come close to the water like in the documentaries you see when the animals come to the water to drink and the crocodiles grab them.   And that was what this one was doing.   Waiting for me to get close.   I had no idea she was there and when I spotted her by chance I was about 10 feet from the waters edge.   Much too close for comfort.   Initially I froze for about 20 seconds and then I slowly walked backwards to the car which was near.   I jumped into the car to relax and get a breather and to give time for my blood pressure and fear levels to drop back down.   After a period of time I got back out of the car and continued my work while continuously scanning the area around me.   I was behaving just like the animals in the documentaries when they come to the river to get a drink.   They take a drink and then look around for danger, then they take another quick drink and once again look around the are for danger.   Well, that was me.   Get a sample and look around for the croc.   Get another sample and look around again for the croc.   I spotted her on two more occasions that day but she was about 20 or 30 feet away and so I wasn't as terrified as I was the first time.   After that day I always looked around about every 30 seconds for the croc when I was at the culverts.   A Crocodile Dundee I wasn't.   But as the Crocodile Dundee would say, "G'day mate".   Lew

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