Firefighters bring new life to infamous Grays Harbor landmark

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by DREW MIKKELSEN / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @Drewmikk

KING5.com

Posted on October 17, 2012 at 6:47 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 18 at 7:32 AM

GRAYS HARBOR COUNTY, Wash. -- The scene would have created panic 30 years ago in Grays Harbor County: thick, grey smoke pouring out of a tunnel beneath one of the cooling towers at the nuclear power plant in the hills above Elma.

Instead it's a sign of a new industry.

Seattle firefighters are spending the week training in the underground tunnels of the plant.

The state halted construction of the nuclear plant project in 1983 prior to completion. Even though the state spent nearly half a billion dollars on the plant, it never generated a kilowatt of power.

"You're not going to find very many places where 28 feet underground you have 12-foot diameter water pipers that run hundreds of feet in any given direction," said Tami Garrow, CEO of Satsop Business Park, the organization that now operates the property.

Garrow told KING 5 News last year developers dug up a section of the tunnel to be used by firefighters.

"We think this could be a really valuable training asset for public safety organizations from all over the west," said Garrow.

Firefighters from New York and Ventura County in California are training with Seattle firefighters at the site this week. Seattle used to send rescuers to a facility in West Virginia for tunnel fire training.

"It reduces time for training, travel all kinds of logistics issues," said Captain J. Havner, manager of Seattle Fire's Tunnel Rescue Team.
 

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