As for the decorative part of the process, the planters feature an integral color, which coordinates nicely with the recreational areas surrounding the facility.

“The California Coastal Commission has requirements that in the coastal zone which we're in, non-obtrusive colors blend in with the naturally occurring background in the area,” says Ray Golden, communications manager for SCE. The chosen color, San Diego Buff, “is very close to the color of the indigenous sand, the San Mateo sand.”

55,000 pounds each

Transporting the finished pieces to San Onofre was another difficult part of the project. Each planter weighed about 55,000 pounds, so Pro-Cast Products had to transport them one at a time, 80 miles from its facility to the nuclear plant. “It took a little bit of work,” says Taylor. “We would do three to four pieces a day.”

Still, the procurement process came off “without a hitch,” says Bachofer. “The people we chose were wonderful, and delivery was not a problem. The hardest part for us was we were closing off one of our gates that goes into the power plant.”

The lines of planters from both ends joined in the middle at the gate, which was to be closed off. So at one spot, they had to fabricate a piece of one planter in place to make it join. “We have good masonry people here, so we were able to pull that off,” says Bachofer. He can't talk about their actual construction because of security, “but precast was selected because of the way it can be made very strong with the mix of the concrete which we specified.”

Presently, purple and orange flowers grace the planters, which are tended by an in-house facilities management staff. “They handle all the infrastructure of the property,” Bachofer says.

And the community reaction?

“I don't think they can see (the barrier), although we're in close proximity to a popular surfing beach to the north and a state campground to the south,” says Golden. “The way the walls are configured, it's in a large parking lot that's private property. But in general, we've always tried to be as unobtrusive as we can, to blend in with the natural environment.”

And with its chameleon-like ability to change form and texture, precast concrete was the most logical choice.

This article originally appeared in the National Precast Concrete Association's Precast Solutions magazine. For more information, visitwww.precast.org.