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Cooling Tower K Reactor – Savannah River Site, South Carolina


SC Newsletter SCIWAY News: May 2009 Savannah River Site SRS Cooling Tower K Reactor


This cooling tower at Savannah River Site is visible from SC 125.

From 1984 until 1988, the US Department of Energy knowingly violated the Clean Water Act by releasing scalding water from the K Reactor into Indian Grave Branch, a direct tributary of the Savannah River, thereby damaging nearly 670 acres of wetlands.1

Cooling Tower K Reactor
Learn more about the Savannah River Site
This image is copyrighted. You may not use it without written consent.

In theory, the cooling tower would remedy this violation. Located 3,000 feet from K reactor, the tower was designed to pull water from the reactor and cool it before it could burn plants and animals.

Construction began in 1990. However, by the time the cooling tower was completed in 1992 – to the tune of $80 million – the Cold War had come to a close and K Reactor was shut down.

Fortunately, the cooling tower does not go entirely unused. It is made of a corrugated material similar to honeycombs, and local bees have taken up residence there. As Laurie Posey, SCIway's tour guide at SRS, explained, "It is a huge beehive now!"

UPDATE: The cooling tower was demolished May 25, 2010 (see the pictures below). The first photo shown below was taken three seconds before the implosion. The black lines on the tower are where the explosive charges were placed. You can more read about its demolition here.

Koger Plantation
Cooling Tower Demolition © Larry Gleason (2010)
  1. Cooling Tower Demolition © Larry Gleason (2010)
  2. This image is copyrighted. You may not use it without written consent.
  3. Cooling Tower Demolition © Larry Gleason (2010)
  4. Cooling Tower Demolition © Larry Gleason (2010)
  5. Cooling Tower Demolition © Larry Gleason (2010)
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