Nebraska nuclear power plant still holding out against Midwest floods

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22 Responses to “Nebraska nuclear power plant still holding out against Midwest floods”

  1. StAlfongzo says:

    Sooo.. do the workers commute to work by boat? I don’t see any boat parking in that pic.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s got to be a no-wake zone. Workers swim there.

    • Anonymous says:

      They do in fact commute by boat. There’s a dry parking lot a little further up the hill. (I live in Omaha.)

      The Union of Concerned Scientists (who are stricter on nuclear safety) said the plant was okay, though that was before the water-filled berm broke. I have heard that they’re going to try repairing the berm and pumping the water back out. The World-Herald printed a list of emergency measures they can take if the water goes higher than 1,010 feet. But I don’t think there’s a whole lot we can do except keep watch and keep working.

      The Cooper plant further south has had a close call, but nobody seems to be reporting on that one.

  2. dross1260 says:

    No reporting on Cooper Station at Brownville, NE.
    http://www.nppd.com/flood/powerplants.asp
    Two and a half more feet, then declare alert.

    No reports on the Google Data Center between Council Bluffs and Omaha.

  3. Anonymous says:

    It’s amazing how un-cool nuclear power plants can look.

  4. daen says:

    Fingers crossed for the engineers keeping Fort Calhoun (relatively) dry and hopefully (relatively) safe …

  5. anansi133 says:

    I sure hope things remain as boring as all that.

    Though if things were to get any more interesting, would OPPD be any more forthcoming than TEPCO has been?

    • Don says:

      OPPD stands for “Omaha Public Power District,” so I’d expect them to behave differently, and better, than a purely private corporation. The directors are elected, and nominally accountable to the people.

      On the other hand, even as a public agency, they’ve got a huge investment in money and reputation in the supposed safety of nuclear power, so there’s still a motive to minimize public relations problems. For years they’ve bristled at any suggestion that nuclear is unsafe.

      I wrote the disaster plan for the hospital in Missouri Valley, Iowa, northeast of Ft. Calhoun, in the 1990s. At the time, the plan for dealing with a radiation release was essentially “get in your car and drive east on US 30.” I said at the time it was a fantasy. I’d be surprised if a more realistic plan is in place today.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The Calhoun plant is a posterchild for how to do everything right. Why? Because it already was in cold shutdown long before the water reached this level.

    The Cooper plant is at full power generation and there is no plan for shutdown. There is also no viable plan for what to do if the water rises again!

    Check it out for yourselves. There’s more than one plant in danger. Calhoun is the only plant you are supposed to look at. The other two are NOT capable of dealing with additional flooding, and due to AGW flooding is projected to continue to get worse, and events are predicted to unfold faster, in the years ahead. Right now the plan for Cooper is to wish real hard and clap your hands real loud, and if we’re lucky the water will go down. This year. That’s the whole plan.

    There will be a fukushima/chernobyl in the USA, because (other than in California) we the people haven’t got the balls to get out there and prevent it. The Bush administration re-licensed all the aging, obsolete power plants the Clinton administration refused to talk to, and the Obama administration is at least as nuke-friendly as Bush was, despite speeches to the contrary.

  7. Anonymous says:

    What’s the hubbub Bub? For decades the engineers in nuclear power plant design have been assuring us that there is NO WAY possible for a nuclear reactor to leak, or meltdown. If we can’t trust these experts who can we trust?

    • Joshua Ochs says:

      In reactors designed in the last couple decades that very well may be true. However, the United States hasn’t built a new reactor since Three Mile Island, so all of the safety problems inherent in the older designs are still with us.

      Put another way, it’s like saying modern cars aren’t any safer when all you have to look at are models built in the 60′s and 70′s.

      • Anonymous says:

        Not quite true. Yes, the 104(?) operating plants in the US are getting older. But the plants aren’t exactly static. Over the course of the last 25ish years, there have been numerous safety improvements. Inspections from the NRC, INPO, WANO, and others are performed frequently, and issues that are brought up are corrected. I’m not saying that nuke plants are 100% fault-free, but they certainly don’t have “all the safety problems inherent in the older designs.” TMI and Chernobyl taught us many things, but we are also learning and improving many things on a nearly daily basis.

        So to take your example, it’s like saying: this collection of cars from the 60s and 70s are safer because they have been retrofitted with modern back-up and safety systems, and we have rewritten the owner’s manual to include more stringent controls.

      • Volker says:

        > it’s like saying modern cars aren’t any safer when all you have to look at are models built in the 60′s and 70′s.

        Please no car analogies. Nuclear power plants can and have been upgraded to newer safety standards before. Its an industrial plant and you can do lots of things to improve it. The problem is that its cheaper to bribe the politicians that set the standards.

        For example, in Fukushima a reactor safety company pitched their plan to upgrade the venting system a couple of years back. TEPCO declined since that would reduce their bottom line.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Correction Maggie. The water levels in spent fuel pool 4 apparently did not fall to the point the rods were exposed to air. Video from inside the pool shows debris but absolutely no sign of other damage (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unvcryGXNv4). Tepco now believes reactor 3 was the source of the hydrogen, which seeped into the number 4 building through a common vent. The exhaust vents are set up so that two buildings share the same external chimney. Normally a flame burns off the hydrogen as it enters the vent but the general power failure caused the flames to go out which allowed hydrogen to concentrate and seep into building 4.

    This doesn’t mean there wasn’t any danger. The spent fuel pool was saved by luck rather than design. An adjacent pool containing radioactive waste (irradiated machinery etc) began leaking after the explosion, adding water to the spent fuel pool.

    http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20110621p2a00m0na010000c.html

  9. Eliot says:

    In Nebraska we’ve got a phrase for when the river decides to change course and create a serious problem: ceded to Iowa.

  10. jacques45 says:

    I’ve read other places that cite the flood protection being able to withstand up to 1,014 feet. Why the discrepancy?

    • Anonymous says:

      The discrepancy is as the river moves southward (downhill), the level of preparedness is against a lower MSL (mean sea level) than comparable preparations further north (uphill).

  11. Lobster says:

    OK, we’ve got a flooded power plant and a burning nuclear research facility. Don’t they cancel each other out?

  12. MrCompletely says:

    cue army of black and hippie cannibals from niven’s paranoid-libertarian fantasy ‘lucifer’s hammer’

    • Moriarty says:

      They form what is essentially a communist dictatorship in Lucifer’s Hammer. How is that a libertarian fantasy? And weren’t the bad guys religious zealots and former military?

      • travtastic says:

        Although a fan, I’ll be the first to admit that everything Niven ever wrote was a libertarian wankfest, at least that I read.

        But that doesn’t mean that every single story element was. Recall that they were eventually massacred with chemical weapons by an authoritarian fiefdom.

  13. Anonymous says:

    _so i understand that only one year earlier such a flood would have caused there major problems.
    Those boiler driven by atoms are a permanent nightmare. The picture is horrible, too.

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