Nebraska Nuclear Threat: As Predictable as Fukushima
by Washington’s Blog
June 22, 2011
Nuclear accidents – like oil spills and financial meltdowns – happen because big companies push to make more money by cutting every safety measure in the books.
The accident at Fukushima was predictable.
Likewise, the potential problem at the Fort Calhoun reactor in Nebraska was predictable. (For background, see this and this.)
As Ketv reported in March:
Fort Calhoun’s nuclear power plant is one of three reactors across the country that federal regulators said they are most concerned about.
Last year, federal regulators questioned the station’s flood protection protocol. NRC officials said they felt the Omaha Public Power District should do more than sandbagging in the event of major flooding along the Missouri river.
OPPD officials said they have already made amends and added new flood gates.
“We updated our flood protection strategy and have tested and re-tested our new strategy. The issue is operationally resolved, and at no time was there a threat to public safety or was public health at risk,” OPPD President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Gates said.
The New York Times noted yesterday:
Last year, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission cited the Fort Calhoun plant for not being adequately prepared for floods and rated the safety violation in the “yellow” category, the second most serious. The agency ordered changes because it said that under the plan in place at the time …
After initially contesting the findings, the plant’s operators, Omaha Public Power District, said that the problems had been resolved.
The Daily Mail writes today:
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.