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
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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.