by Sam Spence
A few weeks back, if you had your eyes peeled driving by the Columbus Street dock downtown, you might've caught a glimpse of the planet's largest railcar as it sat waiting for a very big payload.
The 36-axle "schnabel" car would be loaded with a 1.4 million pound steam generator bound for Jenkinsville, S.C., a critical piece of plans to expand the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station. The car, made by Westinghouse for projects just like this, is designed to handle and distribute extremely heavy and oversized loads over normal railroad tracks.
A video shot by Charleston production shop The Cut Company and posted by Westinghouse, which also makes the massive steam generator, shows the mechanism's journey from the belly of a tanker ship to its destination just outside of Columbia — a three day, 141-mile trip that Westinghouse officials say was in the planning stages for five years. Twisting just seven miles outside of the Port of Charleston area during the first day, the trip was a pretty straight shot toward Columbia, where a few tricky maneuvers were capped off as the generator pulled alongside the V.C. Summer facility in the early morning hours of day three.
The V.C. Summer expansion project, headed up by SCE&G and Santee Cooper, is one of just three active nuclear projects in the U.S.