Major Locales of the Titan I Complex

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Power House Air Exhaust

This area is pretty self-explanatory for the most part and as expected was largely built around the discharge of diesel exhaust from the generators.  There were other effluvia discharged here such as waste heat, steam, and corrosive, volatile and toxic fumes associated with various processes and the operation of the machinery in the Power House.  In short, this structure served as a giant tailpipe. 

A terrible-quality* top view diagram of the end of the exhaust tunnel showing the four huge mufflers and the exhaust stack.

Though in later revisions, the air intake and exhaust structures at other sites would be radically redesigned, becoming much smaller and more cost effective to construct and maintain, they were still impressive in size.  As they evolved from the much larger horizontally-oriented configuration you see here, to the vertically-oriented and more compact arrangement, they would be more effectively measured in feet than yards.

* My apologies about the blueprints in this section.  The images were scanned from nth-generation blueprint reproductions from copies made using the standard diazotype method for copying blueprints.  Later generations using this method can tend to become very "muddy" and end up looking dirty, smudged and damn hard to make out.  I did what I could to clean them up, but I am sad to say, this is the best I could do.

A terrible-quality side view of the end of the exhaust tunnel showing the fan, blast valves and upper level where the mufflers are located.

Not including the connecting access tunnels, the air intake and exhaust structures were large enough to accommodate a semi tractor/trailer, whereas the later structures were roughly 40 feet in diameter.  No matter which, the function was fairly simple, and that was to channel all undesired exhausts, whether from combustion or otherwise, to a central location and eject them to the surface where they would be borne away from the complex by the winds.

Cross-section of exhaust tunnel at the mufflers

An access tunnel (shown below) branched off of the mezzanine level leads past the imposing diesel storage tanks to the exhaust fan.  At that point, the barrier between "inside" and "outside" diminishes to one steel bulkhead while the complex is in a "soft" state.  Soft meaning that the blast valves are open and the site is technically vulnerable to overpressures from atomic blasts as it takes in air and expels exhaust. 

Above view of exhaust tunnel section adjoining the Power House mezzanine level.  Here you can see the location of the 5000-gallon diesel day tank, and the two 67,000-gallon main diesel storage tanks.  Just past the bottom of this diagram, the tunnel widened where the 175,000 cfm fan was situated.

The blast valves waited for any sign of a nearby blast that would trigger them to slam shut in a fraction of a second, protecting the interior from the shockwave.  After the destructive forces had passed over, the blast valves would re-open allowing the complex to breathe and operate.  The grim reality of fallout was that once the blast valves opened again, contaminated air would be drawn into the complex.

This construction photo is the best source I have for a near-operational image of the entrance to the exhaust tunnel.  You can see here that the 3" insulating layer of asbestos plaster is still in the process of installation on the four huge 18" dia. exhaust conduits from the generators.  I have yet to come across operational photos of the exhaust tunnel unfortunately.

Here is the present-day appearance of the same entrance shown in the previous photo.  The steel exhaust conduits have been recklessly stripped of their insulation and cut free from their supports with torches and removed.  The asbestos plaster was left to lay where it fell and ground into powder underfoot leaving eerie white residue, sometimes several inches thick, covering the floor.

Some Words on Asbestos

Undisturbed asbestos insulation under a good layer of paint or sealer is virtually harmless if left alone.  The trouble comes from damage to the paint or the insulation itself that allows dust particles containing asbestos to become airborne.  Crushing this plaster into fine powder even in small amounts is enough to close a public building for weeks while cleanup is conducted.

Because of the onerous costs of abating asbestos from public buildings, most buildings where asbestos was widely installed have instead had the asbestos "stabilized" in one way or another.  This constitutes sealing over insulation or material that contains asbestos so that it cannot easily be disturbed and thereby become friable (easily crumbled) and prone to become airborne where it can be inhaled.  Obviously this was never done in the 1960's so this area of the complex represents a "worst case scenario" of asbestos in its most disturbed state and in exposure to unprotected visitors.

While it is widely held that the dangers posed by asbestos are largely overstated (please note, this is not my personal position on the matter, and I will not substantiate on this further.  Take that as you will.), it would be wise to err on the side of caution and avoid unnecessary contact with a material known to cause cancer and several forms of serious respiratory disorders that can shorten one's life considerably.  Personally, I would hesitate to say that the dangers posed by asbestos are wildly overblown, but let's be frank, nothing makes a lawyer smile like a class-action lawsuit, if you get my drift.

For more general information on asbestos, check Wikipedia's entry here.

This is the area of the complex that poses the most danger by contaminants.  The ratio of asbestos in plaster used for this application would be the highest-- likely 20% or higher, and its condition is about as bad as it can get.  That ain't all-purpose flour you see on the floor.

As far as the function of this area, there is not much else to tell.  On inspection, I found it difficult not to worry about all the harmful dust in this area, which nearly overshadowed the constant general danger associated with being in such an environment.  In time, I must admit that I became more relaxed and perhaps a bit complacent about roaming around inside the complex.  This is a dangerous state of affairs and is wisely discouraged.  

Over the two years I stood watch over 724-C, I had a few unusual requests amid showings to potential buyers (no, I was not the owner, just a caretaker of sorts).  One person wanted to film a post-apocalyptic sci-fi film in the complex, and another wanted to film a small independent documentary.  I am sad to say that these requests were declined due to the ungodly liability involved in such enterprises.

However, to make my point about complacency in regards to safety, there was a film crew down in the site after it was purchased.  I was told that MTV did a shoot about urban exploring and featured 1C in their program.  I don't know if this show ever aired, or was in fact just a myth.  (can anyone verify this?)  At some point a producer or director (I cannot recall which) is said to have become lapse in his attention and stepped right off a gap in the flooring of one of the tunnel junctions near the escape hatch and dunked himself completely in the filthy water.  I didn't hear of any injuries, but I can tell you that I cringe to think of being submerged in that muck containing the liquefied corpses of numerous small animals and lots of other filth.  Yuck!

Diesel tank No. 3, or the 5000 gallon day tank, housed in an alcove off of the exhaust tunnel.  This tank has an outside diameter of 6' and is 24' long.  A day tank is typically a tank intended to house an average day's usage of fuel.  This tank was supplied by two much larger tanks located further along the exhaust tunnel.

Resting on the floor is enough asbestos to elicit screams of raw horror from any facilities manager of a public or private building.  Well in the U.S. anyway...  Lots of countries would simply pick it up and throw it in the trash as its use is not banned in many places.



Further along the tunnel there is a junction where the two 67,000-gallon diesel tanks are located-- one on the right and another on the left.  Dead ahead you can see the gray enclosure for the fan and the stubs of the exhaust conduits stabbing downward from the darkness above.

If the 5000-gallon day tank was in fact an accurate measure of average daily fuel consumption, then with full tanks the Titan complex could expect about 27.8 days worth of run-time before requiring a refueling.  I am fairly certain however, that refueling was done more frequently than once a month.

As you can see, there is a sub-floor here with the usual steel decking.  This floor continues up to the bulkhead near the fan.

Diesel tank No.2 has a capacity of 67,000 gallons, has an outer diameter of 12' and is 80' in length.  The access hatch is about 18" across.  Ask yourself how well you could fit through there!

I am not sure why the access hatches are open on the tanks.  Perhaps the fuel was siphoned out directly or a visual inspection was required to verify the removal of the diesel. 

Diesel tank No.1, same as No.2-- 12'x80' and 67,000 gallons.  Note the section of steel railing propped against the tank.  This facilitated a peek inside which revealed standing liquid in the bottom of the tank.  Not sure if it was collected condensation or diesel residue.  Unlike tank No.3, tanks 1 and 2 said nothing about having been cleaned, remediated or otherwise conditioned since the site's closure*.

Oftentimes these single-walled fuel tanks were first cleaned and then filled with sand or concrete by (or on behalf of) the EPA to prevent their re-use.  Double-walled containers are the modern standard for environmentally sound fuel storage, and single-walled tanks are no longer legal for underground fuel storage.  725A and I believe 724A have had the tanks "stabilized" in one of the above fashions.

* As of 2003.  I am fairly certain this has not changed, but cannot verify this.



Another view of tank No.2.  One of the fuel supply lines to the day tank, protrudes in the foreground.  Fill connectors were located at the surface near the entry portal.



Silo Gnome looking for all the world like he's about to become the unwitting comic victim of some devastating downpour of vile effluvia from above.

The pipes are of course the remnants of the diesel exhaust conduits where at this point two 90-degree offsets conduct the exhaust upwards toward four gargantuan mufflers in the ceiling on the other side of the nearby bulkhead.  Here you can see where a generous amount of high-asbestos-content plaster is still in place.  Removal of the piping was obviously too much trouble beyond this point to be bothered with by the time-constrained salvage contractors.



The Trane Co. squirrel-cage fan with exhaust lines running overhead.  You can see the steel bulkhead separating the raw exhaust discharge from the interior of the complex behind the fan.  Overhead the exhaust lines pass through the bulkhead to the mufflers on an upper platform which I'll show you shortly.


As was the case elsewhere in the complex, the electric motor for the fan had been salvaged.  I later saw the sort of motor which was used with these units and they are quite large and heavy as you would expect.  They are not really all that interesting however, but typically they used 3-phase power and were usually made by GE.


Not visible in the above photo is the narrow access door to the right side of the fan that leads through the bulkhead.


A view of steelwork and supports at the bulkhead.  The fan in the exhaust tunnel, like that of the intake is mounted on a "floating" platform to arrest vibration both from and to the fan and motor.  The steel cable is part of the suspension supporting the platform.  Other smaller exhaust lines can be seen at left, also shock mounted with springs and flexible couplings.  These lines often carried steam, or vapors from lubricants, diesel or acids employed in the raw water treatment system.



Another view of the bulkhead and supports.  Arguably the most fascinating photo so far, I know.


Heading through the access door and taking a long step down (about 3') affords you a view of the sooty tail-end of the exhaust tunnel.  The picture below shows the exhaust fan as seen from beneath the muffler platform.  This area was extremely dirty and badly rusted from its proximity to the outside air.


The outlet of the exhaust fan: it blows big-time!  The ladder leads up to the mufflers on an overhead platform.  The impeller is surprisingly small compared to the housing that contains it.


Heading up the ladder, we see the colossal mufflers.  Head room was a bit sparse in places and the darkness swallowed up my puny camera flashes voraciously.  I did what I could, but I wish I could have had a digital camera back then.


On the upper platform: Flex connectors to the mufflers where they penetrate the steel bulkhead.  



The absolute most massive mufflers I am likely ever to see! (or anyone else for that matter)  Everything in this area was covered in thick black soot.  I imagine this area was as black as coal during operation.  Only four decades of cold and humidity have made the soot slowly exfoliate and account for it looking this clean here.



Looking back toward the bulkhead and Power House.  These mufflers are about 4' in diameter and around 15' in length.  I bet you can't find these at NAPA.



Looking toward the blast valves.  The accumulated soot is several inches deep on the far ends.  I strongly suspect no one ever ventured in here while the generators were operating!



Large flappers on the ends of the mufflers.


Below: Another narrow access door leading to the blast valves.


Looking toward the blast valves in the direction of airflow.  Diesel exhaust was drawn down from the mufflers above and out to the surface through a steel grille.  A steam vent protrudes into the image from the left side.


For anyone who might foolishly think of attempting to gain access to a Titan site through the air intake or exhaust: let me tell you that you will definitely not fit through the gap between the valve and the opening; and if you could, its not likely you'd make it past the supports on the actuator.  Add to that the danger of descending (and later ascending) some 50' by rope into a pit with water at the bottom and I should hope you have ample deterrent from any such endeavors.

A close-up of a soot-encrusted 48" blast valve.

From here you can head back to the Power House, check out the Power House Intake, return to the Main Tunnel Junction (T.J.#10) or visit other points of interest using the map below:


Current Location: Power House Air Exhaust

Power House Control Center Fuel Entry Portal Power House Air Intake Power House Air Exhaust Main Tunnel Jucntion Main Map To Antenna Tunnel To Blast Lock #2

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