Science. Communication. Community.
How do you scrap an entire nuclear power plant? Step One: auction off the stuff that’s not glowing. Then what?
Last week, the ill-fated San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) had a massive 3-day auction. For those who couldn’t attend, perusing the auction’s online catalogue is itself an experience. Part estate sale, part engineering expo, the catalogue offers an endless glimpse into everyday life at a nuclear power plant. There’s no sense trying to recreate the catalogue’s magnitude, but here is a sampling of its quiet, intriguing beauty. (Equipment names, closing bid prices, and notes below.)
The (ex)-exhibition designer in me can’t help thinking what fun it would be to put together a museum exhibit starring such equipment. Could SONGS itself become a museum? Back when I was a college kid, I lucked into touring my neighborhood nuclear power plant, Duane Arnold. It was an incredible experience. And there’s at least tangential precedent here. Minneapolis has its fantastic Flour Mill Museum. And Mexico has Horno3, a steel foundry-turned-science-center. I don’t know would take to make SONGS safe for the masses. But what a bright silver lining it would be if some portion of SONGS (or its equipment) lived on as a one-of-a-kind educational resource.