PEARL's Power Plant Environmental Training Center
The Fall Semester of 2016 saw Morgan State University's Patuxent Environmental & Aquatic Research Laboratory (PEARL) kick-off a new program called the Power Plant Environmental Training Center. The program provides prospective power plant employees (engineering and other STEM college students) a unique learning experience on the interrelationship between the operations of a nuclear power plant and the body of water (such as a river, Great Lake or ocean) that it uses to cool its power generation equipment. This relationship is best viewed through both operational and regulatory perspectives.
Operations and maintenance personnel at power plants that use vast amounts of surface water (an average of 1 billion gallons per day) for equipment cooling purposes are continually having to adapt to changing environmental conditions. A better understanding of this dynamic environment can provide plant operators with the tools they need to increase efficiency, decrease downtime, and mitigate damage or risk to expensive equipment.
Stringent federal regulations that address the impact of the cooling water process are just now being implemented. Regulations such as Clean Water Act Section 316(b) will require plant engineers to have a fundamental understanding of the best technologies available to mitigate damage caused to the environment.
This free program consists of a visiting guest lecture series and an optional intensive field workshop instructed by former power plant environmental operations/compliance managers, and PEARL scientists. All having diverse experiences in solving problems related to power plant operations and the aquatic environment. (Please note that both lecture and workshop content can be tailored to meet a specific professor's learning objectives.) Funded by a grant from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Minority Serving Institutions Program, the program's main objective is to enlighten and educate a more diverse future power plant workforce.
During the Fall Semester of 2016, 152 students attended guest lectures and workshop events. Attendees were from Morgan State, North Carolina Central University, City University of New York (CUNY) - Medgar Evers College and City College of New York.