As bone-chilling cold temperatures grip the area, warm water from Dresden Generating Station’s cooling pond is helping to prevent ice-related damage to homes along the Kankakee River in Illinois.
On Monday, Feb. 16, the Will County Emergency Management Agency began pumping water from the pond into the river and is expected to continue the process through Monday, March 2.
“During the current sub-zero weather, quite a bit of ice formed in several areas of the river,” said Harold Damron, the agency’s director. “This sometimes results in ice jams, which can cause serious flooding and can damage homes, boat docks and other structures along the riverbank. The warm water from Dresden’s pond helps break up the ice so it can flow freely downstream.”
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency allows the siphon lines to be operated twice a season for 14-day intervals each. Dresden has provided warm water from its cooling pond to help alleviate ice jams on the river for more than a decade. This is the first time this winter that the siphon lines have been placed in service.
The 70-degree water is siphoned from the cooling pond through a trio of 3-foot diameter pipes located at the northeastern corner of the pond. The pipes run from the bottom of the pond, over the dike, under Cottage Road and into the Kankakee River. The siphon lines are operated by the Will County Emergency Management Agency.
The cooling pond water is warm because it flows through pipes in the facility’s condenser. The condenser, which is part of the non-nuclear side of the plant, turns the steam that powers the generator into water.
“We strive to be a good neighbor and strong community member and are happy to help with this effort,” said Dresden Station Site Vice President Shane Marik. “Without having Dresden nuclear power plant nearby to provide this warm water, residents along the river might be coping with ice jams and flooding.”
Because weather conditions are subject to change quickly, Damron advises people not to venture out on the ice-covered river.
Dresden Generating Station is approximately 60 miles southwest of Chicago. The station’s two nuclear energy units can produce a total of more than 1,800 megawatts at full power – enough carbon free electricity to power more than 1.2 million typical homes. Dresden Unit 1, which began commercial operation in 1960 and was retired in 1978, has been designated a Nuclear Historic Landmark by the American Nuclear Society.