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The Awesome Power of Nuclear...Power

2:15 PM, Nov 28, 2007 • By JOHN NOONAN
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The wonders of nuclear fission never cease. Discharge from nuclear power plant turns Lake Anna into hot springs:

MINERAL, Va. -- As fisherman Roger A. Hanna Sr. sped across Lake Anna one morning this month, the air temperature hovered barely above freezing. But his digital water gauge registered a balmy 72 degrees.

On the Louisa County shoreline, the North Anna nuclear power plant draws on the man-made lake for coolant to condense steam inside the plant. The water, heated during the cycle, discharges into three lagoons and then returns to the lake, creating a hot springs of sorts here in central Virginia.

The result is a 13,000-acre reservoir with two parts: a cold one fed from the west by the North Anna River and a smaller, hot one near two reactors Dominion Generation uses to produce electricity via uranium fission. For those in the know, the hot part offers an extended resort season. Even as leaves were changing and homeowners were cutting firewood for the winter on a chilly Saturday, boaters, swimmers, jet skiers and water boarders in wetsuits took to the lake.

"Stick your hand in the water," Hanna said as his speedboat passed over schools of fish. Largemouth bass reproduce in larger numbers in the hot part, an attraction to year-round fishermen. Their habitat felt like bath water to the touch.

It is common to find boaters on the water through November. Some celebrate at Christmastime on the lake.

Authorities and locals stress that the lake, which straddles the Spotsylvania-Louisa county border, is perfectly safe.

"It's so regulated by everyone and anybody," said Irene Luck, who lives near the power plant and is a reporter for the Central Virginian, a weekly newspaper.

So when will Greenpeace show up and ruin everyone's fun?