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Google finds use for water-storage tanks from Oklahoma data center

The Internet search giant has donated 30 large tanks to firefighters and officials in Mayes County. They plan to use the tanks for training, water storage and for conversion into storm shelters.
by Paul Monies Published: January 10, 2013

Google Inc. has found a use for some spare water-storage tanks that help cool its Oklahoma data center.

The Internet search and advertising giant donated 30 large storage tanks to several local fire departments and county commissioners.

“We have fantastic public servants in Mayes County and all over the state,” Mike Wooten, operations manager for Google's data center, said in a statement. “We hope these water-storage tanks will help make their jobs easier in emergency situations and provide an ongoing benefit for many Oklahomans.”

Among those getting storage tanks are Mayes County; Oklahoma State University's Fire Training Facility; the city of Chouteau; Perkins Fire Department; and Pawnee Fire Department.

Google uses water-storage tanks as part of the energy-efficient cooling system for its data center, which typically requires lots of electricity and cool temperatures to keep servers operational.

Mayes County Emergency Manager John Janzen said Google approached county officials about the spare tanks. Some agencies will use the tanks for water storage, but a few want to convert the tanks into tornado shelters, he said. Each tank weighs about 15,000 pounds and is 10 feet tall by about 30 feet long.

“Some of the city and county workers and fire department personnel really don't have safe rooms to go to in case there was a tornado,” Janzen said. “These metals buildings some of them are in really aren't very safe. A few of them had the idea to take those tanks and modify them a little bit with some vent pipes and access entrances. They will dig a hole, bury them about halfway in the ground and push the dirt on top of them to use as a shelter from a storm.”

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by Paul Monies
Energy Reporter
Paul Monies is an energy reporter for The Oklahoman. He has worked at newspapers in Texas and Missouri and most recently was a data journalist for USA Today in the Washington D.C. area. Monies also spent nine years as a business reporter and...
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