Published Date Written by Jim Lewis
Here’s how cold it’s gotten this winter: The operators of Three Mile Island have called Londonderry Twp. firefighters three times this season to spray giant icicles off the bottom of one of the two operating cooling towers at the nuclear plant.
The icicles do not pose a safety hazard, but could affect the tower’s efficiency by restricting air flow into it, said Ralph DeSantis, a spokesman for TMI’s operator, Exelon Corp.
The ice could reduce the amount of electricity the reactor makes by “a very, very tiny amount’’ that is “not significant at all,’’ DeSantis said.
TMI has asked the Londonderry Fire Company three times this winter to spray water on the icicles from its pumper truck to melt off the giant icicles, a company spokesman said. TMI did not require the company’s assistance on Thursday, Feb. 13, despite a winter storm that dumped a season-record amount of snow on the area.
TMI has taken the unusual step of renting a used fire truck to spray the ice and melt it, said DeSantis.
Formation of the icicles has been something of a surprise this winter – “somewhat unexpected,’’ said DeSantis.
They form at the base of the cooling tower when water that normally spills down the bottom of the tower freezes, said DeSantis.
They’ve grown big enough this winter for TMI officials to take steps to remove them. Though it’s possible they could restrict some air flow at the affected tower, they do not pose a danger to the reactor’s operation, DeSantis said.
“There is absolutely no reason for anyone to be concerned,’’ he said.