Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Reminder: Both Fort Calhoun and Cooper nuclear power stations in Nebraska both in danger from Missouri river flooding

Date: 6/14/2011 published
by: Jason Chan

Last week, on June 6, 2011, Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station issued an NOUE (Notice of Unusual Event) to the NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) due to the flooding of the Missouri river, which is the least severe emergency classification, or level 1. There are four emergency classifications which I have penciled in to the following screen grab of the top part of the original NRC PN (Preliminary Notification) report PNO-IV-11-003 from June 6, 2011 titled Fort Calhoun Station: Fort Calhoun Station Declaration of a Notification of Unusual Event Due to High River Level:
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Another event was issued to the NRC on the following day (June 7, 2011) by the utility which operates the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station, the OPPD (Omaha Public Power District), based on a fire in a room containing electrical equipment.  The report issued was of type "Alert" which is the second (level 2) emergency classification.  Here is the top part of the NRC report PNO-IV-11-004 titled Fort Calhoun Station: Fort Calhoun Station Declaration of an ALERT Due to Fire Affecting Plant Safety Systems:
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When interviewed by an Omaha, Nebraska newspaper officials from the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station told reporters that the flood waters had encroached upon several parking lots but that there were no verified reports of the power plant building being flooded. Quoting the Omaha World Herald which is dated June 10, 2011:
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Nuke plant: No floodwater has breached the nuclear power plant at Fort Calhoun, say officials from both the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Omaha Public Power District. NRC spokeswoman Lara Uselding and OPPD spokesman Mike Jones said Thursday that some floodwater is pooling in some of the plant's parking lots, but there had been no confirmed reports of floodwater entering the currently idle plant, they said.
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However, news reporters from KMTV Action 3 News who traveled directly to the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station (I am assuming on June 6, 2011) shot footage clearly showing flood waters right up to the walls of the buildings in the facility.

My personal feeling is that when the Fort Calhoun nuclear plant officials issued their statement to the Omaha World Herald they were perhaps trying to downplay the severity of the flooding situation?

A citizen journalist who runs the MaryGreeley YouTube channel (I assume her name is Mary Greeley, but this could be a pseudonym) says that the emergency severity at the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station is now level 4 but I was unable to confirm this based on official sources.  Here is the video:


I read the event reports directly at the NRC site which has at the highest a level 2 for Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station, and the most recent Preliminary Notification or event report at emergency severity for Fort Calhoun is dated 6/8/2011.  Perhaps Mary Greeley is ahead of the curve and I am behind?  In any case, I think this astute lady has the right idea in general to be concerned regarding these nuclear plants being situated right on top of flood plains even if she may have jumped the gun on the emergency severity level.

Another nuclear power plant flagged by Mary Greeley as being in the Missouri river flood danger zone is the Cooper Nuclear Station in Brownville, Nebraska.  This nuclear power plant is still online according to the NPPD's (Nebraska Public Power District) own site.  A level 1 NOUE (Notice of Unusual Event) will not be triggered until the Missouri river level reaches 42.5 feet.  As I am writing this article the highest current river level I am aware of is 40.1 feet.  Following is a diagram taken from the NPPD website which illustrates their flooding emergency procedure regarding Cooper Nuclear Station:
I did scan the NRC site to verify that there are no emergency level events for Cooper Nuclear Station (yet) recorded.  There was a recent non-emergency event regarding discharging sludge in to the Missouri river but that is all.

Here is Mary Greeley's video regarding Cooper Nuclear Station:


As Arnie Gundersen points out in a recent interview with Robert Knight of the a-Infos Radio Project, it would only take an unexpected event such as a dam or levee breaking that raises water levels to an extent which could put either the Fort Calhoun or Cooper nuclear power plants in jeopardy of some sort of nuclear disaster (skip ahead about 1 minute for Mr. Gunderson's interview with Robert Knight):


Having dams or levees breaking does not seem to be such an unusual occurence. ABC affiliate KETV Newswatch 7 reports that two levees have indeed broken recently in Northwest Missouri:
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HAMBURG, Iowa -- The rising Missouri River has ruptured two levees in northwest Missouri, sending torrents of floodwater over rural farmland toward the Iowa town of Hamburg and the Missouri state park and resort of Big Lake. The levee failures both happened Monday morning.
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The video broadcast by KETV Newswatch 7 can be found here.

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