Surry Nuclear Power Plant
Surrey Nuclear Power Plant is located in southeastern Virginia, near Jamestown and on the James River. It first came in to operation in 1972 when the first unit was commissioned, although a second unit was added shortly thereafter in 1973. It is currently owned by Dominion Resources Inc. and operated by Dominion Generation, which is a subsidiary company. With an annual power generation of 13,282 GWh, it contributes a considerable amount of the energy used in the area. As well as this plant, there is also a “sister plant” called North Anna and located in Richmond, Virginia, both of which generate roughly the same amount of energy.
As with all nuclear reactors, the pollutants created by the Surrey Power Plant are negligible when compared to those created by those powered with coal. There have been various tests carried out on the plant, all of which have shown that there are negligible to no harmful emissions or radiation emitted from this plant. Additionally, the water needed to cool the core of the plant is drawn for the nearby river, ensuring that there is no need to build cooling towers. This is fortunate as cooling towers are often seen by residents as an eyesore due to their size and height.
Surrey Nuclear Plant has had its fair share of events in the past, most notably the incident in 1986, whereby a steam explosion in Unit 2 killed four workers. This is still considered to be among the most deadly nuclear incidents ever on American soil. Unit 2 has also been shut down twice since: once in 2010 due to a leaking water pipe and then again in February 2011 because of a problem with the coolant system. There have been no recent problems with Unit 1, which remained working throughout the two incidents at Unit 2.
Asbestos has also likely been an issue at the Surrey Nuclear Plant as it has been in many of the other structures built during the same period. This material was used due to its resistance to heat and fire, initially being installed to protect the machinery and workers from harm. It had the opposite effect, however, as it exposed employees in its presence to possible health risks, including cancer and asbestosis, which often don’t set in until years after exposure.