Sunday, August 30, 2009

Touring a Nuclear Power Plant - Diablo Canyon

If you, like my Uncle J, like firefighting apparatus, then click through to the blog to see today's slide show.

Within half an hour's drive of our house is Diablo Canyon Power Plant, a nuclear facility that generates about 18,000 gigawatt hours every year. Need some perspective? According to the Energy Information Administration, the average American home uses 936 kilowatt hours per year. If my math and reasoning skills aren't completely screwed up (which is quite possible even using this tool), that means this plant supplies enough electricity to power more than 2 million homes for an entire year. WHEW!

The plant, located on 750 remote areas on California's Central Coast, offers some of the coast's most spectacular views. Employees here are blessed with a beautiful daily commute, and breathtaking views any time they can spare to look up from their work. For the majority of my lifetime, my dad has been one of those employees. Today, he led us on a tour of the plant.

It was an unusually warm day all along the coast, so even with the usual afternoon breeze, we were plenty warm. Dad took us all on a tour of his office space, the fire department and the grounds. Then the girls and Mr. B took part in the kid-friendly portions of the tour: meandering through the learning center; pretending to be Homer Simpson while randomly turning knobs and pushing buttons inside the control room simulator. Meanwhile, Dad took me for a walk through the turbine building. With both units running, the floor rumbled beneath our feet, and even with our earplugs in, the sound was impressive.

We wrapped up the day with a swim in the ocean at Port San Luis, about 7 miles south of the plant. The beach was pretty crowded, and the limited camping spots were packed, but we really couldn't have picked a better way to wrap up this perfect beach day.

For more photos, and an inside look at life at Diablo, check out Jim Zim's site.

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