Monday, June 20, 2011

Fort Calhoun, Nebraska- update


UPDATE II Tuesday, June 21, 2011

UPDATE III Wednesday, June 22, 2001

See here for my original posting on the flooding on the Missouri River and the nuclear power plant at Fort Calhoun, Nebraska, about 25 miles north of Omaha, Nebraska, my hometown.

The following pictures were taken by Larry Geiger, and can be found here.

A farm house and surrounding properties just north of Omaha.  

North of Omaha looking south.  Interstate 29 is completely under water.

The 2011 Missouri River flood is of epic proportions.  

The nuclear power plant at Fort Calhoun is completely surrounded by flood water. 

WOWT, the local NBC affiliate in Omaha, is reporting today:
The National Weather Service said the river measured at 44.75 feet surpassing a record of 44.3 feet set in 1993. Flood stage is 33 feet.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the river level at Brownville surged two feet from Saturday morning to Sunday morning. Col. Bob Ruch attributed that to heavy rain on the Nishnabotna River, which flows into the Missouri, and to some erosion along a levee upstream at Hamburg, Iowa, that created a water pulse.

The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency says water was flowing over a levee there and into farmland, but the levee is being built up.

Nemaha County emergency manager Renee Critser said when workers built up one section of the levee to alleviate the overtopping, water would flow over in another spot.

Downstream in northwest Missouri, several levees were failing to hold back the surge of water being released from upstream dams. A hole in the side of a Holt County levee continued to grow Sunday, deluging the recreational area of Big Lake.

Authorities said water began pouring over levees Saturday night in Holt and Atchison counties, flooding farmland and numerous homes and cabins. Residents with swamps for back yards said worrying is worthless. “It's just kind of part of living near the Missouri River," said one.

Homeowners and farmers are beginning to count their losses. “The best crop we've ever seen and the best prices and we're gonna get a zero paycheck this year."
The Associated Press reports today (h/t What Really
The supply of sand used to fill hundreds of thousands of bags needed to fight off the swollen Missouri River is running low after weeks of relentless flooding. It's a problem that could get worse as the river is expected to remain high through August, making it unsafe to gather sand from the easiest place to get it: the river itself.

The sand shortage comes as the bloated river rose to within 18 inches of forcing the shutdown of Cooper Nuclear Plant at Brownville, Neb. It stopped and ebbed slightly Monday, a reprieve caused by levee breaches in northwest Missouri.

Flooding is a concern all along the river because of the massive amounts of water that the Army Corps of Engineers has released from six dams. Any significant rain could worsen the flooding especially if it falls in Nebraska, Iowa or Missouri, which are downstream of the dams.

During the next few days, the river is expected to rise as much as 5 to 7 feet above flood stage in much of Nebraska and Iowa, and as much as 10 feet over flood stage in parts of Missouri. It could stay above flood stage into August.

The Army Corps of Engineers is monitoring the sand supply, said Jud Kneuvean, chief of emergency management for the corps' Kansas City District. He said a ton of sand produces about 60 sandbags. Sand also is piled along weakened areas of levees to prevent seepage.
"You need lots of sand, lots of sand," Kneuvean said.

In a pinch, other materials can be used — everything from gravel to lime products.
"Unfortunately, though, when some of those get wet they harden up and it decreases the flexibility of sand bags and it basically forms concrete," Kneuvean said.

Dan Sturm, the fire chief in Hamburg, Iowa, joked that his community deserves blame for thinning sand supplies.

"We probably took all the sand," Sturm said.

Hamburg has filled at least 250,000 sandbags and dumped truckloads into fabric-lined metal-frame baskets to create a makeshift barrier to hold back water pouring through a breached Missouri River levee.

Downstream, St. Joseph has filled 365,000 sandbags to reinforce low spots on levees and protect city buildings and the airport at Rosecrans Air National Guard base, said public works director Bruce Woody.

The local supply of sand quickly ran out after flooding began in St. Joseph, and the river was moving too swiftly to allow for dredging, Buchanan County emergency director Bill Brinton said. The county had to ship in sand from Topeka, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo.

Atchison, Kan., also had to purchase sand from the Kansas City area, about an hour's drive away, city manager Trey Cocking said.

Suburban Kansas City-based Ash Grove Aggregates & Ready Mix, which sells sand, typically dredges the river at St. Joseph for sand. Because the river is so high and the current so strong, the company has been forced to cease dredging and may not start again until August, company president Allan Emby said.

Despite the shortage, he is refusing to raise the price.

"I can't morally in my own brain think about increasing prices because of flooding," Emby said. 
Mark Becker, spokesman for Nebraska Public Power District, said the river rose to 900.56 feet at Brownville on Sunday, then dropped to 900.4 feet later in the day and remained at that level Monday. The Cooper Nuclear Plant was operating at full capacity.

The utility sent a "notification of unusual event" to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission when the river rose to 899 feet early Sunday morning. The declaration is the least serious of four emergency notifications established by the federal commission.

Cooper is one of two nuclear plants along the Missouri River in eastern Nebraska. The Fort Calhoun Station, operated by the Omaha Public Power District, is about 20 miles north of Omaha. It issued a similar alert to the regulatory commission June 6.

The river continued to rise along the Missouri-Kansas border, but by Monday afternoon, there were no new trouble spots.

Craig Sheppard, manager of the levee that protects the airport in St. Joseph, said the earthen structure was in good shape and should hold, barring unforeseen heavy rains to the north.
"As far as picking up and running from the river, there's no need to do that," Sheppard said.

In Andrew County, north of St. Joseph, a couple of trouble spots along levees have been stabilized. Most residents in towns threatened by high water have already left or are preparing to do so, said Roger Latham, emergency management director for the county.

"We know it's all going to come down here eventually, and the concern that we have about the levees is they really haven't been tested since 1993," Latham said.

Brig. Gen. John McMahon, the commander of the U.S. Army Corps' Northwestern Division, traveled to Missouri's capital city Monday at the behest of U.S. Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer and Vicky Hartzler to meet with local levee district managers, mayors and county commissioners concerned about potential flooding.

McMahon said the corps' had previously released enough water from upstream reservoirs to account for a larger-than-usual snowmelt, but had not anticipated this spring's unusually larger rainfalls that occurred in Montana and parts of the upper Midwest.

If more heavy rains hit the upper Missouri River basin, McMahon said the corps may have to increase the already record flow of 150,000 cubic feet of water from Gavins Point dam in South Dakota.

"I dread that thought, but we could have to do it. It's a very real possibility," McMahon said.
In Kansas' northeast corner, Missouri River levees were in good shape. Yet there was still concern as rain forecast into Tuesday could overload drainage systems in the small towns of Wathena and Elwood.

"The main concern right now is internal flooding," county emergency director Julie Meng said. "We'd be flooding from the inside."
The Mail Online reports today (h/t Jeff Rense):
Safety has taken a back seat to cost-cutting at most of the nation's nuclear power plants, sparking fears that America could be facing its own Fukushima disaster.

An investigation by the Associated Press has revealed federal regulators are repeatedly weakening - or simply failing to impose - strict rules.

Officials at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission have frequently decided that original regulations were too strict, arguing that safety margins could be eased without peril.

The constant danger of aging reactors operating without the highest standards has resulted in rising fears the NRC is significantly undermining safety.

Such negligence is destined to to bring the plants closer to a catastrophic accident that could harm millions and jeopardize the future of nuclear power in the U.S.

Examples abound.

When valves leaked, more leakage was allowed — up to 20 times the original limit.

When rampant cracking caused radioactive leaks from steam generator tubing, an easier test of the tubes was devised, so plants could meet standards.

Failed cables. Cracked concrete, corroded metals and rusty underground pipes — all of these and thousands of other problems linked to aging were uncovered in the AP's year-long investigation.
Yet despite the growing problems linked to aging, not a single official body in government or industry has studied the overall frequency and potential impact on safety of such breakdowns in recent years.

All the while the NRC keeps extending licenses of dozens of reactors.
IranContraScumDid911 has uploaded some very informative videos regarding the flooding in Nebraska and it's impact on the nuclear power plants there.

UPDATE: Video found via What Really

UPDATE II: The Daily Mail reports today (h/t Jeff Rense):
A nuclear plant was inches away from being engulfed by the bloated Missouri River after several levees in the area failed to hold back its surging waters, raising fears it could become America's Fukushima. 
Dramatic pictures show the moment the plant was threatened with being shut down today, as water levels rose ominously to within 18 inches of its walls. 
The river has to hit 902 feet above sea level at Brownville before officials will shut down the Cooper Nuclear Plant, which sits at 903 feet. It stopped and ebbed slightly yesterday, a reprieve caused by levee breaches in northwest Missouri - for now. 
Flooding is a major concern all along the river because of the massive amounts of water that the Army Corps of Engineers has released from six dams. Any significant rain could worsen the flooding especially if it falls in Nebraska, Iowa or Missouri, which are downstream of the dams. 
The river is expected to rise as much as five to seven feet above the official 'flood stage' in much of Nebraska and Iowa and as much as 10 feet over in parts of Missouri. The corps predicts the river will remain that high until at least August. 
Nebraska Public Power District spokesman Mark Becker said the river rose to 900.56 feet at Brownville on Sunday, then dropped to 900.4 feet later in the day and remained at that level on Monday morning. 
The Missouri River set a new record Sunday at Brownville when its depth was measured at 44.4 feet, topping the previous record of 44.3 feet set during the 1993 flooding, according to the National Weather Service.
UPDATE III: The Washington Post today has a very informative article relating to the Missouri river flooding, as does the Omaha World-Herald.  From the Omaha World-Herald today:
Approximately 110,000 acres of land are affected by the flood waters in Nebraska, the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency said Tuesday. Citing data from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, NEMA said this includes agricultural and non-agricultural land. The total includes land affected by the Missouri River, but only Scottsbluff, North Platte and Grand Island on the Platte River. Approximately 66,000 acres of this total is agricultural land, NEMA said.
The World-Herald also has a county-by-county map with updates on the flooding along the Nebraska-Iowa-Missouri borders today.  


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  2. Looks bad! Thanks for the update.

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  3. going to be a long hard summer


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