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Overheated river hobbles nuclear power plants via grist

by Christopher Mims

12 Aug 2011 11:20 AM

The Tennessee Valley authority has reduced the output of three of its nuclear power plants for the second summer in a row, thanks to unusually warm temperatures in the rivers into which they would normally discharge water.

Of note: There’s no physical reason why the plants can’t use the warm water. Laws say that power plants can’t heat the rivers into which they discharge above 86.9 degrees F because it’s bad for fish. But even without the plant’s help, climate change already caused the Tennessee River to bust right through that threshold. (This means that whatever fish are still living can probably handle it.)

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