Aug 4, 2011.
The Tennessee Valley Authority was forced to power down three nuclear reactors in Alabama today to avoid environmental sanctions for dumping heated water into an already warming Tennessee River.
TVA operates the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant, about 100 miles south of Nashville, Tenn., where raw water is pumped through a network of tubes to help cool the reactors.
That water — which never touches radioactive material — is then chilled by a series of cooling towers and eventually dumped back into the Tennessee River.
But TVA — a federal agency that also operates two other nuclear plants in Tennessee — said soaring summer temperatures Sunday caused water in the river to rapidly heat, forcing the company to cut power production by 50 percent at all three 1,100-megawatt reactors.
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Solar and wind don’t need water.