Monday, November 23, 2009

Ode to ANO

Arkansas is the natural state, so naturally when they were looking for a place to build a nuclear plant Arkansas was right up there with "the Garden State" and "the Evergreen State." Northeast Arkansas already looks like it's been hit by a nuclear attack.  It's all brown and empty and flat, but here in the River Valley there are mountains and lakes and trees and things that could actually be destroyed in a nuclear meltdown, so there is great potential theatrical effect and possible post-meltdown before and after pictures that could make you cry.
It provides a lot of jobs and is good for the economy of the area, and it's always in view, a constant comfort in our mastery over the elements. There are a lot of nice houses on hills with gables and decks and a panoramic view of Lake Dardanelle and the concrete coolant tower with it's constant torrent of steam, or "the cloud factory," as one friend refers to it.  The view is like the opening to "the Simpsons."
They put it here because of Lake Dardanelle.  The lake water is needed to cool the reactor. It gets very hot, what with all the splitting of atoms and loose electrons flying around and that lake water filters through there and keeps the plant from literally melting down.  The pressurized steam from the hot water drives turbine generators which produce electricity that gets sent out all across the United States.  When the water is done it gets pumped back out into the lake.  I think that's how it happens anyway.  
I don't know a whole lot about thermodynamics but I imagine that the water would carry some sort of atomic residue after running through the reactor.  They claim that it doesn't but my ice maker can't produce an ice cube that doesn't taste like the freezer, so I'm just using my limited experience with water to conclude that that water from the nuclear plant has to have something of the plant in it.  The fish like it though.  They hang out there by the pipes all day long, and they get huge.  I'm not sure how they taste but they're probably great.  Catfish restaurants are big business here.  
Another benefit is that every year the Bassmasters come here for at least one of their major tournaments.  There are pictures of fishermen holding fish in the air whose tails drag the ground.  There are also stories, mainly from underwater welders who repair the pipes running from the reactor, of catfish who could eat a man.  It's from the warm water.  But I'm not sure a bassmaster has ever caught one of those.  
I'm not crazy about nuclear power because splitting the building blocks of matter into pieces seems dangerous to me, but I'm incurably addicted to electricity so if the Earth has to adapt and produce a few two-headed frogs, or in this case some man-eating catfish, for me to be able to watch Wife Swap that's a chance I'm willing to take.  I also like the clouds, Arkansas Nuclear One.

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