Energy policy — nuclear: What are the potential water sources for a new power plant in Pueblo County?

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Everyone in the world now knows that the safety and containment of certain nuclear facilities depends on an uninterruptible water supply that depends on an uninterruptible power supply. Some questions: What will be the priority of the water for the nuclear power plant in Pueblo County? Do they get in line according to the water rights they acquire? Do they jump to the head of the line during a crisis? What will be the minimum water requirements after shut down and decommissioning?

Maybe the proponents will go with liquid metal cooled reactors like this oil shale production scheme.

Here’s a report about the possible sources of water for the power plant from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

“I really don’t want to discuss the water availability, because of the fact that I don’t have it under contract, and that’s intentional. I wasn’t going to spend the money to put it under contract unless this played out,” said Don Banner, who has applied for county zoning on a proposed site for a nuclear plant east of Pueblo…

Water has been a central issue in dealing with tsunami-damaged nuclear plants in Japan. Some nuclear plant designs require large amounts of water for cooling. Others require relatively less, by using air or gas cooling. Reactors that use a steam turbine need a great deal of water, which can either be recirculated or passed through the plant…

A nuclear plant near Holly is one possibility Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association is considering. It also could build a coal- or gas-fired plant. Regardless of which type of plant it builds, Tri-State acquired large amounts of water — nearly half of the Amity Canal, which irrigates 37,000 acres in some years. Tri-State’s yield is estimated at 20,000 acre-feet per year — about 18 million gallons per day — on average. Tri-State’s goal was to buy enough water to operate two coal-fired plants that would produce about 1,200 megawatts of electricity at the site. A nuclear plant might need at least as much, but again it depends on the design of the plant. The needs could be much less.

Banner has talked publicly about several potential sources, even mentioning Evraz Rocky Mountain Steel or Aurora as entities that might be willing to sell water at Thursday’s hearing. “There are wells located near the property, deep water wells. There is the Welton Ditch,” Banner told The Chieftain. “I don’t know if they are sufficient. That’s an engineering determination that has to be made.”[…]

The Welton Ditch has generated an average of 4,481 acre-feet annually since 1912, according to the Colorado Division of Water Resources. Its maximum year was 16,421 acre-feet in 1985. During the 2002 drought, its yield dropped to 463 acre-feet, and no water was diverted in 2003.

There is another ditch on the Huerfano River that feeds the Welton, the Huerfano Valley Ditch. It is connected to the Two Rivers Water Co. plan to renovate Cucharas Reservoir as a storage site. It has similar numbers to the Welton, with average yields of 6,229 acre-feet and a peak year of 16,691 acre-feet. There were no diversions in 2002…

Another possibility could be obtaining water from the Pueblo Board of Water Works, which had preliminary discussions with earlier backers of an energy park on the same land Banner is interested in. The water board now provides water to Xcel’s Comanche power plant and will supply the Black Hills plant now under construction…

“To serve another [power plant the size of Xcel’s] Comanche, say, we would include the costs to buy new water rights so there would be no impact on rates,” [Alan Hamel, executive director of the Pueblo water board] said. “There would be major up-front costs so we could fully recover the cost of water.”

Here’s a table of the 33 most serious nuclear accidents since 1952 from The Guardian Scroll down through the article for the list. Thanks to beSpacific for the link.

More nuclear coverage here and here.

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