OH&S News

The Atlantic Generating Facility

As a kid, my dad and I did a lot of interesting things together. A memorable adventure we shared when I was in high school (in the early 1960s) was our participation in the Atlantic City Tuna Tournament.

Even though I was a teenager, Dad treated me like a real man. We stayed at the hosting marina, slept on the boat, had prime rib dinner at the marina restaurant and spent three days fishing for tuna. What a thrill!

On the way to and from the tournament, we cruised past Little Egg Inlet. This story picks up at the inlet about a decade later.
According to literature from a power company, a floating nuclear generating facility was proposed to be built “19 kilometres north of Atlantic City”.

{{image2-a:r-w:300}}The Atlantic Generating Facility, as it would come to be known, was supposed to consist of two nuclear power plants that would be built in a shipyard and mounted on gigantic barges in the ocean.

Before you completely flip out, you should know that the structure and the plants were designed to survive 13-metre waves, sustained hurricane winds of 251km per hour and tornado winds of 483km per hour. For comparison, Hurricane Sandy had a
top speed of 143km per hour and a wave height of 9.9m.

The facilities would be towed to their ocean site and protected by a surrounding breakwater. The breakwater would also act like an artificial reef and be a boon to sea life in the area. This is where the beneficial environmental use of gravel and rock comes into play.

Concrete caissons would have been floated to the site, sunk and filled with sand and gravel. Next, thousands of tonnes of rock would have been used to create the breakwater. Perhaps you recall my series of articles for Quarry about the Barre granite. The piles of oversized waste granite in Barre, Vermont, were a perfect size and shape for the breakwater. Moreover, transportation would have been a breeze. The rail connection on the Central Vermont Railroad was a straight shot down to the dock in Connecticut. From there, the breakwater rock could be barged right to the site. What a happy job for Too Big Ugly Rock!

The part of the breakwater above sea level would have been armoured with interlocking pre-cast concrete objects called “dolosse”. If you ever played ball and jacks, a dolos looks like the jacks you gathered up in your hand between bounces of the ball. A large dolos would have been 6m by 6m and weighed as much as 38 tonnes. About 70,000 dolosse of various sizes would have armoured the breakwater. That would have required a lot of concrete aggregate. What a prize for some lucky aggregate producers!

You probably know there are no floating nuclear generating facilities off Little Egg Harbour – the project never materialised.

No aggregate producers won the prize to provide stone or concrete for the breakwater. And like the aggregate producers, my dad and I carried no trophies when we sailed on by Little Egg Inlet on the way home from the Atlantic City Tuna Tournament.

But I brought back the best prize of all – the experience that my dad and I shared there.

My thanks to Bob Mayville for bringing this story to my attention.

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