Trojan Implosion

In just a few hours, the cooling tower from the Trojan Nuclear Plant will come down.

What's the role of nuclear power in the future? Is it a safe source of carbon emission free power? Or is it a dangerous power source that generates immortal nuclear waste?

Should we continue to research safer, cleaner, nuclear power -- and the clean-up technology it needs? Or should we abandon it for other kinds of power?


  • LT (unverified)

    If someone is promoting nuclear power, just say 3 words to them:

    Nuclear Waste Repository

    Whatever anyone else says about nuclear power, what to do with the waste remains a problem (How's that Hanford cleanup going?).

    Or say "Sure I'll be glad to discuss nuclear power, as long as the discussion includes the power company buying insurance instead of the insurance being paid for by taxpayers, and as long as the financing is audited a lot better than Enron ever was".

    Otherwise, why should we believe a new venture wouldn't turn out like WHPPS? ( (pronounced WHOOPS! stands for Washington State Public Power Supply--business schools should do a compare and contrast case study of WHPPS compared to Enron).

    But as far as "nuclear power is great because someone says so"? Sorry, I had relatives living within not very far from 2 Mile Island (were on a trip when it happened, but worried about their house) AND I recall Chernobyl vividly. As far as "things are done better now", make sure the people who say that weren't ENRON boosters.

  • (Show?)

    It will be weird to come back to Oregon and not have the giant water cooling tower there anymore. I remember seeing it driving from Portland up through to Seattle. If memory serves me right, somewhere just before Longview Washington you can see it across the Columbia over in Oregon.

    On the other hand, it was kind of an eye soar. I guess it's a mixed bag seeing it go.

  • (Show?)

    If anyone hears of a webcast being down by a local television station please let me know. It will be late evening here, but I'd enjoy watching the implosion.

  • David (unverified)

    I'm pretty sure is doing one. They'll at least have video of it after it happens. I've already set up my TiVO to tape it. Should be fun.

  • the skeptik (unverified)

    Nuclear waste repository = deep salt mines. Very stable, very deep, very inexpensive. Should have been used years ago. All the nuclear waste from all the nuclear plants in the country could fit in a single salt mine a mile below the surface of the earth, in a space 300 feet by 300 feet by 300 feet.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)

    I was opposed to nuclear power for many years but that, I realize, was attributable to masses of mis- and dis-information circulating for many years. A much used alternative all these years has been the burning of coal, which has been more harmful than an American (or French) nuclear power plant will ever be.

    If the problem of storage of nuclear waste can can be addressed to most people's satisfaction, a construction method agreed upon (such as France's single model), and security of the sites taken seriously, then we could all be better off getting over our irrational phobia regarding nuclear power.

    Bob Tiernan

  • LT (unverified)

    Skeptik, which salt mine would you suggest for the Hanford waste which is not still fully cleaned up?

    If these mines are such a great nuclear waste depository, why hasn't there been discussion of them before? Certainly salt mines were around long before Hanford became synonymous with nuclear waste.

    If the opposition is purely political, surely posting on a blog won't change that.

  • (Show?)

    KATU will be doing a webcast (not sure about KGW) for those of us outside Oregon.

  • Philip (unverified)

    In the not-too-distant future all of the spent fuel that is only 2 percent used of it's energy will become a resource as it is reprocessed by new technology pyrometallurgical techniques. The true fission waste products will be 1/100th the volume and radioactive for 200 years decaying to iodine, zirconium, and barium and traces of other elements like platinum. Individuals that keep pointing to the nuclear waste issues just are not considering technological advances. Read Scientific American Dec. 2005 for infor on new tech fuel reprocessing, 98 percent efficient.

  • (Show?)

    I watched it this morning. 6 seconds. That's all it took. Kinda surreal.

    For those who missed it, will have video (haven't checked to see if it's there yet) of the implosion from every angle including from Sky 8. FYI.

  • Karl (unverified)

    We've been hearing about something that would take care of nuclear waste "in the not to distant future" for the last 30 some years. We've been hearing about storing it in salt deposits for that long too. It's still piling up all over the world. Nuclear power plants keep churning out one of the most deadly poisons known to man with a 20,000 year half life. How can anyone guarantee that it will be monitored and safely stored for that long? Maybe if we stored it under the White House it would be watched as long as our country lasts, but what about after that?

    In my mind it's incredibley iresponsible to continue to use nuclear power before the waste issue has been resolved. Our kids and grand kids don't deserve that.

  • (Show?)

    I watched the implosion on the internet. It was quite a sight even from thousands of miles away.

    KATU had some decent footage as well. They had an unmanned (remote) camera pretty close and when they replayed the footage it showed some debris flying at the lens. All it all it looked like a pretty sucessful implosion.

    I wonder if any of the boats entered the exclusion area. They were saying the fine for doing so was something like $32,000. I'd be interested to hear if anyone was stupid enough to do it.

  • Harry (unverified)

    Did any station wagons get crushed but flying blubber? Wait, I think I have the wrong explosion...never mind.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)

    The short term answer is that nuclear power is not ready for prime time. The problems in the United States and elsewhere have been caused by what was essentially an experimental technology going into commercial production prematurely. So we should continue research on nuclear power, but recognize it is a very long way from being safe to use in a commercial environment where short term costs are the paramount value of the operator.

    Waste disposal is only one of many problems that need to be resolved.

  • Joel H (unverified)

    Ross and others - Hypothetically, what evidence would convince you that nuclear power is a mature and safe power source, considering waste, security, containment, cost of operation, etc.?

    I'm not suggesting that it is in fact safe, just curious what you think would be good enough.

  • (Show?)

    Nuclear power is a more mature and safer technology than it sounds from comments here.

    Its problems at this point are more about management and politics than technology. However those are real problems and if we don't deal with them effectively nuclear power won't be as safe as it could be or needs to be.

    We can't just throw up nuclear power plants near major fault lines. We can't build first and figure out a plan for disposing of the waste later. We can't count on "the invisible hand" of the market to ensure that execution matches theory where safety is concerned.

    I'd like to see us starting to build well-planned nuclear power plants soon rather than waiting until we end up in full panic mode over declining oil supplies.

  • (Show?)

    Hanford is a red herring.

    Hanford was never about nuclear power it was about weapons research. It dealt in different materials in very different times.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)

    Hanford is not a red herring. Some of the problems are Hanford are the result of the same difficulties that are inherent in products that remain highly toxic over timeframes that are beyond human history.

    Its absolutely true, however, that Hanford is different. Just as Chernobyl is different from Three Mile Island is different from Trojan. On an engineering level you can identify those differences after the fact. But before the fact, all three were believed by the engineers who designed and built them to be completely safe and reliable.

    There are only a handful of nuclear power plants that have completed a full lifecycle and that is excluding that waste issues. Problems, like those at Trojan, have popped up with many of them from unpredicted stresses. Chernobyl is really the only one that has had a catastrophic result. But, largely as a result of Chernobyl, the implementation of nuclear power has progressed far more cautiously and been dramatically slowed in the process.

    So in answer to the question - what needs to be answered - I would honestly say I don't know. To some extent we need to get answers to one set of questions in order to know what other questions need to be resolved. If you start with "how do we dispose of the waste" I suspect the answer will raise more questions that need to be answered.

    That is not the characteristic of a mature technology where you are putting the finishing touches on proven results in order to move to implementation. That is the characteristics of an experimental technology where answering all the questions is still the primary goal. Businesses don't function very well if they spend a year working on a project and end up with more to do than when they started.

  • Philip (unverified)


    I think that there has been considerable maturing of the nuclear industry. Firstly, there have been significant safety procedures put in place since 3 Mile Island. In fact, the sister reactor to 3 Mile Island has one of the best safety records in the US. Secondly, the average reactor up time has gone from 60 percent to 90 percent due to significant technology improvements, efficiencies and engineering experience. Thirdly, the reason plants have not completed a lifetime is that their licenses are all being extended, only a handful have been closed prematurely. Some have been closed and then reopened or completed when utilities have discovered that nuclear is the least expensive means of electrical generation and is profitable for them. The fact that we have built no reactors for 25 years has given engineers time to advance two generations in reactor technology being built elsewhere around the world. It is hardly an "experimental" industry at this point. I will grant you, however, that the reprocessing technlology has lagged, unfortunately. That should have been the first thing addressed back in the 70's but was severly limitied by actions of the Carter, Reagan, and Clinton administrations.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)

    It is hardly an "experimental" industry at this point.

    I think the variety of examples you provide of changes based on what is being learned from existing commercial reactors indicates it is.

    here have been significant safety procedures put in place since 3 Mile Island

    the average reactor up time has gone from 60 percent to 90 percent due to significant technology improvements, efficiencies and engineering experience.

    the reason plants have not completed a lifetime is that their licenses are all being extended

    And the extensions are based on what? On the projection that the reactors can be safely operated for a longer period than was anticipated initially? Or more likely ...

    utilities have discovered that nuclear is the least expensive means of electrical generation and is profitable for them.

    Which is the problem with putting an experimental technology into commercial operation. As was pointed out above, many of the risks associated with nuclear power have been limited and transferred to the public. But capitalism is not very good at capturing the risk of rare but catastrophic costs in any case. This is why we build cities below sea level and on earthquake faults.

    That should have been the first thing addressed back in the 70's but was severly limitied by actions of the Carter, Reagan, and Clinton administrations.

    The issues of reprocessing and/or permanent disposal have been addressed, just not successfully.

  • Philip (unverified)

    Ross, thanks for your thoughtful response. I would like you to read some of the work of Patrick Moore, a cofounder of Greenpeace who is now a pro-nuclear environmentalist and head of Also the December 2005 issue of Scientific American has a great article on the progress being made with pyrometallurgical reprocessing, completely fissiioning transuranic elements (ie plutonium) leaving only fission elements needing isolation for 200 years, decaying to zirconium, barium and iodine and trace other non-radioactive elements.

  • (Show?)

    6 seconds to come down.... Hmm. Did anyone notice how much that looked like the WTC Towers and WTC 7 coming down? Bore quite a resemblence in my view. You could see the same little puffs of smoke coming out from the walls, and you could see the cooling tower fell right into its own footprint. If you are ready to realize that the WTC was brought down on purpose just like the Trojan cooling tower, head on over to

    Here in Portland, you can hook up with the PDX 911 Truth Alliance at:

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    Now, Ginny, you know people would rather not be reminded of such troublesome ideas. Next you'll suggest folks go see V for Vendetta to feed their distrust of authoritarian leaders.

  • Ernie (unverified)

    On the Website you can read all about Trojan's history, including safety issues. There are dozens of photos and a link to several views of the implosion.

    <h2>Did you know that PGE was allowed to charge ratepayers both for return of their Trojan investment and a 13% profit in violation of voter-approved Measure 9 (1978)? The Website tells the story and describes the lawsuit, in its final stages, that could return $300 to $500 million to ratepaters.</h2>
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