Old coal facilities being deactivated at Savannah River site

Savannah River Nuclear Solutions LLC (SRNS) said May 22 that it has shut down the massive 1950s era powerhouse in D Area, which had been fired with coal, at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina.

At one time, this coal-powered facility was capable of generating 75 million watts of power, enough electricity to support the entire city of Aiken, S.C. But now the 280,000 square-foot, five-story building is being prepared for deactivation.

“Recent startup of three new wood-chip burning (biomass) steam plants at SRS means we no longer need this facility, but I humbly thank the mechanics and operators whose skill, dedication, and creativity kept this facility operating for nearly 60 years,” said Karen Guevara, Assistant Manager for Infrastructure and Environmental Stewardship, Department of Energy-Savannah River.

The steam produced within the D Area was used throughout the nuclear site for a variety of industrial and process-related needs. At its peak, three of the facility’s four boiler units individually produced about 350,000 pounds of steam per hour.

Dwayne Wilson, SRNS President and CEO, said the financial and environmental benefits gained with the shutdown of the D Area Powerhouse include the elimination of approximately 160,000 tons of coal purchased each year and the annual reduction of 100,000 tons of CO2 emissions.

SRNS is a partnership comprised of Fluor Corp., Newport News Nuclear and Honeywell International, and is responsible for the management and operations of DOE’s Savannah River Site, including the Savannah River National Laboratory, located near Aiken, S.C.

During the Cold War, this site produced one third of the nation’s weapons-grade plutonium and all of the nation’s tritium. When the Cold War ended, the U.S. no longer needed the same amounts of new nuclear materials as before. Other sites that made raw materials for atomic bombs across the nation were closed down and their materials were sent to South Carolina for safekeeping. The partnership manages the site, including an ongoing clean-up effort.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.