January 3, 2005 at 5:25 pm #806
Question one. What is the status of the small nuclear power plant on the hill?
Question two. How far is Byrd Station from Williams (miles) Mcmurdo.
Question three. What is the the air travel time to Byrd from Williams and back on a Herc? And the fuel consumpton?
Question four. What is the air travel time from Williams to Byrd and back on a Gooney? And of course the fuel consumption in lbs.January 9, 2005 at 2:03 am #7988
The answer to question 1 is that the Nuke plant was removed many years ago. The control building is still there. I haven’t been in it lately but in the past it’s been used as a warehouse.
Not sure what the answers to your other questions are. Byrd Field camp still exists, but I think Byrd Station is long gone. Don’t know if they’re in the same location.
I just read your other post about the airplane crash. Hadn’t heard of that! The ice shelf calves a lot some years, so older locations of Williams Field have probably floated out to sea long ago.March 21, 2005 at 1:26 am #7987
why the hell would you put a nucular power plant on a place whare your tring to presurve 👿 ❓ thats a very smart idea 💡 ❗ ❗ ❗ 😈 😈 👿May 12, 2005 at 12:49 am #7986
The old Byrd Station is buried under the ice, down 75 feet or so. I stayed at Byrd Surface Camp for a few days back in the early 90s. A few of us got a bit adventurous and using some heavy machinery, uncovered the ladder access to the station (it was designed to be buried). If NSF had found out, i would have been northbound in a hurry, I’m sure. Anyway, we spent the better part of a day down in that hole. It was amazing. There was an ample amount of supplies stored there, everything from brand new Briggs & Stratton engines, to boxes of hard candy. We even removed a case of urinal cakes for the bathroom in the surface camp. It actually looked like the place was left in a hurry, as there were still pans on the stove and personal cards and letters in the berthing areas. It was almost eerie.
Flying to Byrd from McMurdo in a Herc. As I recall, it was a little bit shorter than flying to Pole. I’d ballpark it as about 700 miles and about 2 1/2 hours. I don’t know what a Gooney is. In a Twin Otter, it was a little over a 5 hour flight.
And as far as the Nuke Plant goes, well at the time it seemed like a good idea. But it wasn’t the only place in which nuke power was used. Small RTG’s have been used to fill other power needs on the ice.June 22, 2006 at 6:05 am #7985August 19, 2006 at 5:19 am #7980
I don’t know, if we ship the waste out it would leave a lot less impact than burning hundreds of thousands of gallons of petroleum based fuels. Fuel is unbelievably expensive to fly into pole. I work the power plant down here and I would love to see a nuke plant at pole. Obviously I would hope that the manufacture of the plant and the disposal of the waste would be well regulated.
-NateAugust 20, 2006 at 2:45 am #7979
Hidden away in the archives in Port Hueneme are (so I’ve been told) lots of documentation on the history of these small nuclear plants. It seems that one of the main proponents of their development was the Air Force–some of the generals wanted to have these things at their bases to provide power in the aftermath of a nuclear war.
As for the Antarctic, the original plans for the new (1962) Byrd Station included one (that one actually was under contract for awhile, if it got in they were going to use the waste heat for a rodwell), then maybe a second one at McMurdo (they then would start using electric heat!) anyway the reactor building included a spare chamber for the second reactor. If all that went well, the next one was to go at Pole.
Nukey poo (the McM plant) went down for good during the 1972 winter. My first trip to the ice (in December of that year) included a bunch of tech reps from Fort Belvoir that were sure that they’d have it back on line in no time. Hmmmm…..At the time the backup plant (not the current one) had 4 500kw White diesel units, two were hard down, and they needed to be running three.August 21, 2006 at 12:01 am #7981
I see their reasons for this. At the time the US was a little nuke crazy, and I’m glad they didn’t vastly expand nuclear use in antarctica. I believe now, espicially at the power consumption levels at pole we could essentially get fueled once a decade and not burn 400,000 gallons of fuel a year for power alone. There are risks and impacts with anything we do, I would perfer a small nuclear plant (look up Toshiba 4s) over diesel. I would also like a grey water system in the new station for johns, but we can’t all have what we want.
I remember hearing a story about a bunch of chickens getting thrown away in the dump and Skua’s carrying them around and dropping chickens every where. Evidently, greenpeace finally got their way and Mac town got nice and clean.
-NateAugust 21, 2006 at 4:52 am #7982
I was once told a story the person called “The day it rained chickens in McMurdo.
Seems they had a batch of spoiled whole chickens. They were sent to the dump to be burned. The skuas went wild and kept flying into the burning pile to pull out the chickens. As the flew away with feathers burning, many could not keep their grip and the chickens started falling from the sky into town.
The person who told it swore it was true. The post above is only the second time I’ve heard the story, though.
MikeOctober 19, 2006 at 2:46 pm #7983
FYI, the first six automatic weather stations placed on the ice for the University of Wisconsin program were powered by an RTG, a small little nuke power plant. Used Strontium-90 for fuel I believe. They are gone now…last one removed in the mid-90s. They are probably still producing power right now!
Now the weather stations use lead-acid gel-cell batteries for power. However, the batteries are installed at the base of the tower, and as snow accumulates, these batteries get buried. Unfortunately, when it’s time to replace the batteries or remove the stations, the old battery cables are simply disconneted and new batteries are connected; the old batteries are left buried in the snow and are almost never recovered.May 7, 2007 at 6:07 am #7984
Evidently, greenpeace finally got their way and Mac town got nice and clean…
Summer and winter over crew 91-92 cleaned up all the dumps, dug up old trash, sorted it all, processed it, and retrograded it out of there.
I was one of the Winterover recycling engineers. It was clean when I left!
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