– Nuclear Plant’s Vital Equipment Dry, Officials Say (New York Times, June 27, 2011):
FORT CALHOUN, Neb. — When safety regulators arrive for a tour of a nuclear plant, the operators usually give the visitors a helmet, safety glasses and earplugs. When Gregory B. Jaczko, chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, got to the Fort Calhoun plant on Monday morning, the Omaha Public Power District offered him a life jacket.
– Waters Encircle Nuclear Plant (Wall Street Journal, June 27, 2011):
A protective berm holding back floodwaters from a Nebraska nuclear power plant collapsed early Sunday after it was accidentally torn, surrounding containment buildings and key electrical equipment with Missouri River overflow.
The berm’s collapse allowed floodwaters to wash around the main electrical transformers. As a result, emergency diesel power generators were started. Later in the day, power was restored.
The NRC’s Mr. Dricks said temperature monitors were working properly and temperatures of key parts of the nuclear power plant were normal. Water has not seeped into any of the containment structures, he said.
Even when in shutdown mode, a nuclear plant requires electricity to keep key components cool in order to avoid any degradation or melting of the core that could result in the release of radiation.
– Flood berm bursts at Nebraska nuclear plant (CNN, June 27, 2011):
A water-filled berm protecting a nuclear power plant in Nebraska from rising floodwaters collapsed Sunday, according to a spokesman, who said the plant remains secure.
Some sort of machinery came in contact with the berm, puncturing it and causing the berm to deflate, said Mike Jones, a spokesman for the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD), which owns the Fort Calhoun plant.
– Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant: Flood Seeps Into Turbine Building At Nebraska Nuke Station (Huffington Post, June 27, 2011):
OMAHA — Missouri River floodwater seeped into the turbine building at a nuclear power plant near Omaha on Monday, but plant officials said the seepage was expected and posed no safety risk because the building contains no nuclear material.
An 8-foot-tall, water-filled temporary berm protecting the plant collapsed early Sunday. Vendor workers were at the plant Monday to determine whether the 2,000 foot berm can be repaired.
– A Nuclear Plant’s Flood Defenses Trigger a Yearlong Regulatory Confrontation (New York Times, June 24, 2011):
Pictures of the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant north of Omaha, Neb., show it encircled by the swollen waters of the Missouri River, which reached a height of nearly 1,007 feet above sea level at the plant yesterday.
The plant’s defenses include new steel gates and other hard barriers protecting an auxiliary building with vital reactor controls, and a water-filled berm 8 feet tall that encircles other parts of the plant. Both systems are designed to hold back floodwaters reaching 1,014 feet above sea level. Additional concrete barriers and permanent berms, more sandbags and another power line into the plant have been added. The plant was shut down in April for refueling and will remain so until the flood threat is passed.
“Today the plant is well positioned to ride out the current extreme Missouri River flooding while keeping the public safe,” Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Victor Dricks said on an agency blog this week.
But a year ago, those new defenses were not in place, and the plant’s hard barriers could have failed against a 1,010-foot flood, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission contends in a yearlong inspection and enforcement action against the plant’s operator, the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD).
– The NRC in Action at Fort Calhoun (Monthly Review, June 27, 2011):
The Union of Concerned Scientists often complains about Nuclear Regulatory Commission inaction — the agency’s failure to enforce its regulations prohibiting unmonitored and uncontrolled releases of radioactively contaminated water, the agency’s tolerance of four dozen reactors operating in violation of fire protection regulations, and so on.
Today, we commend the NRC in action.