Waterford: Agriculture to Industry – Chapter 7 (Louisiana Power & Light Co. 1963-Present)

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NOTE: The following research material is included on this website courtesy of Entergy and was prepared in 1988 for Louisiana Power & Light Company (presently Entergy) following their purchase of one of the most historical properties in St. Charles Parish dating back to the earliest settlements on the German Coast. Originally known as the Darensbourg Tract, this site at the time of purchase was Waterford Plantation, one of the last surviving plantations in St. Charles Parish.

Waterford 3 Nuclear Power Plant
Waterford 3 nuclear power plant.

LP&L Increases Presence

In the 1950’s, Louisiana Power & Light (LP&L) opened the Little Gypsy plant on the east bank of the Mississippi River establishing an increased presence in the region surrounding the Plantation. 

On July 8, 1963, LP&L purchased a portion of the Waterford Plantation, consisting of 2002 acres for $840,690, or $420 per acre. From 1963 through the 1970s, LP&L leased the land to Milliken and Farwell, Inc. for a share of the proceeds from the sale of sugar cane produced on the property. On December 28, 1970 and January 19, 1971, two additional purchases of land totaling 1,600 acres, formerly on the Killona Plantation, were purchased by LP&L from Milliken and Farwell, Inc. and Charles Farwell ill, for approximately $2.75 million. 

At the time of the original purchase, the usage distribution of acreage of the property was as indicated in Figure 7-1. Although a portion of the plantation property is now utilized for electric power generation, there remains a significant portion leased to farmers for agricultural purposes. 

Figure 7-1: Waterford Acreage Distribution
Average Tabulation
1 Batture – 19.6945 Acs. 
2 Levee and Highway – 15.5371 Acs. 
3 South Side of Sidewalk to North R.O.W. of T.P. R. R. (including 1.033 Acs. in Texaco Inc. Surface Leas) – 295.2913 Acs.
4 T.P.R.R. R.O.W. – 10.2013 Acs. 
5 South Side T.P.R.R. R.O.W. to Woods Line  – 437.4790 Acs. 
6 Woodlands – 1,224.5790 Acs. 
TOTAL ACREAGE: 2,002.7822

Waterford Plantation Bell Donated to LP&L

At the time of the sale, F. Evans Farwell donated the Plantation’s bell to LP&L. This historic bell is now display­ed in front of the Waterford 3 Administration Building on the site, serving as a constant reminder of the original purposes for which the land was used. The Plantation’s bell had formerly been located on top of the barn, and served as the communications system for the plantation’s workers. Everyone awoke by the bell and worked by the bell. The tolling of the bell was perhaps both the first and last sound heard daily by generations of workers. 

The houses on the plantation were donated to the farm hands, and F. Evans Farwell assumed the costs of moving the houses to lots in Killona. At that time, Mr. Farwell stated that some of his present employees were direct descendants of the slaves originally brought to work on the Waterford Plantation.

Waterford Plot Plan
Figure 7-2: Plot Plan of Waterford – Units 1, 2, and 3 with locations of Waterford cultural remains (Castille, 1980)
1. possible bighouse, barn, or other large structure
2. cluster of nine unidentified structures
3. possible overseer house or store
4. double row of 14 quarter house
5. sugar house with one support structure
Source: Cultural Resource Evaluation of ht Waterford 3 Electric Generating Plant Site. (From Waterford: Agriculture to Industry, November 1988)

Preserving Cultural Resources

An archaeological investigation (Neuman, 1977) and a cultural resources evaluation (Castille, 1980) of the former Waterford Plantation property were conducted before the construction on the Waterford site. The results of these surveys found that no areas on the Waterford site or in the immediate vicinity were in, nominated for, or as yet declared eligible for the National Register of Historic Places or the National Registry of Natural Landmarks. 

The surveys found no standing structures that were formerly associated with the Waterford Plantation. However, possible remains of the abandoned Waterford Plantation sugarhouse, consisting of brick and mortar fragments, were found. These remains reportedly appeared to have been badly disturbed by the demolition of the structure and the subsequent plowing activities (Figure 7-2). 

LP&L recognized that five distinct areas with cultural resources remaining from the Waterford Plantation were eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Although these sites consist solely of artifactual material lying beneath the present ground surface, LP&L developed an environmental protection program for ensuring that these cultural resources do not get subjected to further damage.

Major Chemical Plants in Area

Adjacent to Waterford, the chemical industry is abund­antly represented. The major chemical plants located in the area of the property include Union Carbide, Occidental Chemical, Witco Chemical Corporations, and the Shell Chemical Company. The Linde Division of Union Carbide specializes in the manufacturing of straight and mixed industrial gases (Louisiana Directory of Manufacturers, 1988). Chemicals such as olefins, aromatics, ethylene oxide, epoxy plasticizers, several acids and numerous other chemical compounds are produced and/or processed in the vicinity. The factories located here produce many chemicals that are essential to today’s industrial society and demand substantial electrical power for their production. Just as the spirit of sharing was so evident in the early days of the Waterford Plantation, today LP&L cooperates fully with the other industrial facilities to assist in ensuring that safety is enhanced in the region by coordinating emergency response programs.

Units 1 and 2 Constructed

The construction of the electrical generating facilities known as Waterford Units 1 and 2 began in May of 1971. The plants were designed to operate on either natural gas or fuel oil, and to provide a measure of assurance of adequate electric energy independent of the availability and cost of fuel supplies. The two units are tied into a switching station, along with the Little Gypsy generating plants, and linked to the Waterford transmission system which spans the Mississippi River and is joined into the Middle South Utilities electric grid system. 

Each unit, Waterford No.1 and No. 2, has a generating capability of 411,000 kilowatts and is computer monitored, meaning that the units use a special computerized system for monitoring various operating and control points which are vital to their operation. The two units were placed in commercial operation on June 20, 1975 (No. 1) and September 13, 1975 (No. 2). 

During and after the construction of Waterford Units 1 and 2, expansion in the demand for electrical energy grew, resulting in an increased need for commercial power in the region.

Projected Needs for Electric Power

On September 16, 1970, LP&L announced plans to build the third plant on the Waterford property, a nuclear­fueled, steam-electric generating unit, the third such in the Middle South Utilities System. The then Chairman of the Board and CEO, Mr. Floyd W. Lewis, stated, “Natural gas has been the primary fuel at all our generating stations, but limitations on the ability to secure an adequate supply under long-term commitments in quantities required for the generating units to meet increased customer need in 1977 and beyond, lead to the proposed nuclear unit. Efforts to secure oil or coal for use as fuel have also been unsuccessful.”

United 3 Constructed

On November 14, 197 4, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission issued the permit LP&L needed to begin construction of the Nuclear Fueled Steam Electric Generating Unit known as Waterford 3. LP&L was granted its fuel load and full power operating licenses on December 18, 1984 and March 16, 1985 respectively. The Waterford 3 electrical generating station went into commercial operation on September 24, 1985, at one minute past midnight. Waterford 3 has the power capability of 1,140 megawatts which is enough power to serve a city the size of New Orleans.

James M. Cain

LP&L’s commitment to the ongoing development of the company and the Waterford community it serves is conveyed through the determination of its Chairman, CEO and dedicated employee since 1960, Mr. James M. Cain. Mr. Cain publicly displays the Company’s efforts to help educate and develop the surrounding community by serving as the spokesman in several television commercials and stressing that the Company is a caring organization. 

Mr. Cain also emphasizes the importance of company employees’ individual growth and the success of the company as a unit. He stresses that ” … employees should never stop trying to develop themselves. They should be eager to take on a new assignment or expand their present job if it’s offered. Seek out schooling opportunities. Don’t settle for less than good performance – it’s what the company and customers expect of you. Good performance will be recognized, and that employee will be successful. And let’s be particularly mindful that we need to do it as a team.”

Commitment to Safety

Mr. Cain also emphasizes the importance of company employees’ individual growth and the success of the company as a unit. He stresses that ” … employees should never stop trying to develop themselves. They should be eager to take on a new assignment or expand their present job if it’s offered. Seek out schooling opportunities. Don’t settle for less than good performance — it’s what the company and customers expect of you. Good performance will be recognized, and that employee will be successful. And let’s be particularly mindful that we need to do it as a team.” 

The Waterford 3 nuclear generating facility has other features designed to prevent accidents and protect the health and safety. of the public… One .such .feature is the multiple emergency core cooling system which ensures that a back-up supply of cooling water protects it from overheating. 

Another noted safety feature is the control room complex, which is designed to assure that plant operators are protected from the effects of potential accidents as well as external events, such as those from surrounding chemical plant accidents, and can safely operate the plant, or even shut down the nuclear reactor if necessary.

In addition to barriers and controls, there are systems such as filters, evaporators, and other equipment which remove almost all of the radioactive materials from the reactor vessel and allow them to be isolated and disposed of safely. These safety features are used to assure the public that LP&L is working for a secure energy future.

LP&L’s Commitment to Excellence

LP&L is committed to making these nuclear and fossil facilities the best in the nation and is working together with other companies in the Middle South System to continue its commitment to excellence in energy production. Waterford 3 leads the other nuclear plants in terms of power generation, hours without a lost-time accident, and the shortest refueling outage.

Jerrold G. Dewease

LP&L’s commitment to excellence is evident through its leadership in Nuclear Operations. The Senior Vice President-Nuclear ·Operations, Jerrold G. Dewease, believes that ” … Excellence comes in three parts – Perfor­mance, Compliance, and Efficiency, and all three must be done well in order to achieve success.” Mr. Dewease, who has 20 years of experience in the Nuclear Industry, ensures excellence is achieved by implementing and supporting Management Programs which have led to outstanding performance.

Improved Standard of Living

Today, the three electric generating stations situated on the site of the former Waterford Plantation continue to make the land productive. Many individuals and businesses in the surrounding communities are affected by the generating plants’ positive economic effects. More than 1,000 employees and contractor jobs contribute to the economy of St. Charles and St. John the Baptist Parishes, as well as the river region surrounding New Orleans and Baton Rouge. In 1987, LP&L paid over $4 million in taxes to St: Charles Parish alone. Because of the economic impacts of Waterford, residents of the parish can afford a better standard of living.

Ross P. Barkhurst

The operation of Waterford 3 is under the direction of the Vice President-Nuclear, Mr. Ross P. Barkhurst. At the time of his arrival at Waterford, December 1982, Mr. Barkhurst had acquired 16 years nuclear experience, including 10 years in commercial nuclear power. Mr. Barkhurst established the team that successfully accomplished the start-up of the facility and has subsequently achieved an outstanding operating record.

Emergency Planning

LP&L has worked with local authorities to implement an emergency plan to be used in the unlikely event of an accident at Waterford 3. This plan, although developed for Waterford 3, has been utilized by local Parishes for other emergencies that have occurred. Equipment and methods were jointly developed by LP&L and local governments. The company also interacts with local parish agencies to implement a plan in the case of any emergency situation.

Providing Safe Electric Energy for the Future

The Waterford property continues to be productive and is expected to produce electricity for several decades. LP&L is continuing to strengthen the economy by boosting employment in Louisiana while providing electrical energy. 

Just as the sugar mill represented a productive era for Waterford during the sugar industry years, LP&L’s electric generating facilities represent a giant step into America’s future. 

LP&L and its three units continue to promote excellence in the industry, and will provide safe, electric energy well into the 21st Century. Working with industry leaders, LP&L continues to ring the bell of the Waterford Plantation, heralding a new age of industrial innovation.

This concludes the research material on Waterford Plantation, originally the Darensbourg Tract.