Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fort Calhoun, Nebraska


UPDATE II Friday, June 17, 2011

Many of you may know that I am from Omaha, Nebraska, which is about 25 miles south of Fort Calhoun, site of the nuclear power plant which was recently declared a level 4 emergency by the Omaha Public Power District.  Yesterday, the FAA shutdown the airspace over the plant.

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There has been massive flooding along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers this year.  The Missouri River separates Nebraska from Iowa, and the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant is located near the river.  As you can see from the picture below, flood water has surrounded the plant.

Thanks to Mike Rivero at What Really Happened for pointing this information out to me initially.

From Lucas Whitefield
Many people were scrambling at the NRC to cover up the full extent of the damage at the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant following an electrical fire that stopped the cooling system to the spent-fuel rods. The NRC originally reported that the fire was detected in a switchgear room at 9:30 am, by declaring a Notification of Unusual Event. Automated fire suppression systems activated as expected and the fire was confirmed out at 10:20 a.m.Thursday this was updated to an Alert, with no recognition by MSM, because the cooling systems were down for multiple hours.

The fire impacted two pumps, causing them to go offline. One pump was returned to service after almost 2 hours had elapsed, and the second pump required much more time until later in the day. This is extremely alarming if you also look at the report filed by the OPPD (Omaha Public Power District) just last month after inspecting the Fort Calhoun Station:

"During identification and evaluation of flood barriers, unsealed through wall penetrations in the outside wall of the intake, auxiliary and chemistry and radiation protection buildings were identified that are below the licensing basis flood elevation. A summary of the root causes included: a weak procedure revision process; insufficient oversight of work activities associated with external flood matters; ineffective identification, evaluation and resolution of performance deficiencies related to external flooding; and “safe as is” mindsets relative to external flooding events."

As a result of a Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) inspection conducted from January 1 to June 21, 2010, the NRC determined that Fort Calhoun Station (FCS) did not have adequate procedures to protect the intake structure and auxiliary building against external flooding events. Specifically, contrary to Technical Specification 5.8.1.a, the station failed to maintain procedures for combating a significant flood as recommended by Regulatory Guide 1.33, Appendix A, section 6.w, “Acts of Nature.”
From the Wall Street Journal June 8, 2011:
A nuclear power plant north of Omaha, Neb., on Tuesday briefly lost the ability to cool a pool of used nuclear fuel after a fire at the site, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said.

The NRC said the plant recovered cooling ability without activating backup systems and "temperatures in the pool remained at safe levels." The public was not in danger because the plant has been shut down since early April for a refueling outage, the agency said.
From Nuclear June 9, 2011:
Already on guard from the rising waters of the adjacent Missouri River, the Fort Calhoun nuclear plant declared an alert Tuesday following an electrical fire that briefly disrupted spent-fuel cooling.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission reported that the plant, operated by the Omaha Public Power District, declared the alert about 10 minutes after a fire was detected in a switchgear room at 9:30 a.m. Automated fire suppression systems extinguished it within an hour, with the alert ending soon after.

During that time, though, pumps for the plant's spent-fuel cooling system stopped working. The Associated Press quoted plant and NRC officials as saying one pump was returned to service within one or two hours, and a second pump returned to service Wednesday. Backup safety systems were not needed, according to the NRC.
From Scientific American June 9, 2011:
A fire in an electrical switch room on Tuesday briefly knocked out cooling for a pool holding spent nuclear fuel at the Fort Calhoun nuclear plant outside Omaha, Neb., plant officials said.

The safety of deep pools used to store used radioactive fuel at nuclear plants has been an issue since the accident at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant in March. If the cooling water a pool is lost, the used nuclear fuel could catch fire and release radiation.

As ProPublica reported earlier, fire safety is a continuing concern at the country's 104 commercial reactors, as is the volume of spent fuel piling up at plants.
From Business Insider June 15, 2011:
A fire in Nebraska's Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant briefly knocked out the cooling process for spent nuclear fuel rods, ProPublica reports. The fire occurred on June 7th. 
On June 6th, the Federal Administration Aviation (FAA) issued a directive banning aircraft from entering the airspace within a two-mile radius of the plant
"No pilots may operate an aircraft in the areas covered by this NOTAM," referring to the "notice to airmen," effective immediately. 
The plant is reportedly at a stage 4 level of emergency, though the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD), which owns and operates the plant, denies this.
(h/t Daryl Bradford Smith at

(h/t to Jeff Rense)

UPDATE: The Omaha Public Power District has released a statement to address the "flood rumors."  Hopefully, the plant will be able to withstand what's predicted as the greatest flood ever to affect the Missouri River this year.

UPDATE IIThe Omaha World Herald reports on June 17, 2011:

NRC: No flood danger at reactor
Despite the stunning sight of the Fort Calhoun nuclear reactor surrounded by water and the weeks of flooding that lie ahead, the plant is in a safe cold shutdown and can remain so indefinitely, the reactor's owners and federal regulators say.

“We think they've taken adequate steps to protect the plant and to assure continued safety,” Victor Dricks, spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said Thursday. 
Tim Burke, vice president at Omaha Public Power District, said the plant's flood barriers are being built to a level that will protect against rain and the release of record amounts of water from upstream dams on the Missouri River. 
“We don't see any concerns around the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station,” Burke said at a briefing in Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle's office. 
The nuclear plant, 20 miles north of Omaha, was shut down April 9 for refueling. It has not been restarted because of the imminent flooding. 
Cooper Nuclear Station, which is about 70 miles south of Omaha near Brownville, Neb., continues to operate even as it makes similar flood protections. Cooper is owned by Nebraska Public Power District. The river would have to rise about 6 feet higher for the plant to go into a cold shutdown. 
Time has been on Fort Calhoun's side, said David Lochbaum, director of nuclear safety at the Union of Concerned Scientists. The group is a leading watchdog of the nuclear industry.
Dissident Voice has an informative article here as well.  

This is only appropriate:


  1. We need to get rid of all this nuclear stuff!

    - Aangirfan.

  2. I think you're probably right. We certainly cannot trust the powers that be with nuclear weapons, power, technology, anything.


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