|Fuel rod control mechanism on top of reactor vessel|
A couple of weeks ago I visited the International Nuclear Academy in Chalon-sur-Saone, a town in Burgundy, France. They have access to a nuclear power station simulator which includes every important piece of equipment you find in an operating nuclear plant. Not replicas or small models, but the real things. And it's all HUGE. I can't even imagine how many tens of millions of euros it's all worth.
The centre is used to give power plant operators and technicians hands-on training, and I had a lot of fun climbing up and over steam generators, handling fuel bundles, peering through massive coolant lines and watching trainees hone their skills removing spent fuels rods out of a reactor (below). The reactor pool is even filled with tens of thousands of litres of water, glowing a bright blue, just like the real thing.
|Operators removing spent fuel rods and inserting new ones into a reactor vessel|
|Spent fuel canister|