Tuesday June 18, 2013
Looming Nuclear Disaster in Nebraska?
Salem-News.com Staff Report
Image from several days ago prior to the berm collapse courtesy: Russian TV
(FORT CALHOUN, Neb.) - We first told our readers about the perilous floodwater surrounding the Calhoun nuclear plane in Nebraska reported through Russian sources on 17 June.
The tip came from our reporter John McCarthy who has been on the ground in Europe covering various agency developments, that a nuclear power plant in Nebraska that was intentionally built in a flood plane of the Missouri River, was surrounded by water and reaching dangerous levels.
Today The Associated Press reports that a berm that had been holding water back from the plant has collapsed.
The NRC (U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission) has been monitoring the Missouri River flooding at the nuclear plant. Ft. Calhoun was shut down in early April for refueling.
The berm was two thousand feet in length. It let go early this morning around 1:30 a.m. With this safety barrier fully removed, the waters of the Missouri are swirling around two of the plant's actual building. According to the NRC, the buildings are designed to withstand water that is 1014 above sea level. The river is currently at 1006.3 feet and isn't expected to rise above 1008 feet.
Amazingly, the levels always manage to remain within the range of what the federal government says is acceptable. The problem is that they have to keep adjusting their story.
The NRC's Chairman, Gregory Jaczko, made very interesting comments about the state of U.S. nuclear power at a press conference in Vienna 12 June, our John McCarthy was there.
Among other remarks, Jaczko said:
"While it is my opinion that U.S. nuclear plants are safe, the early work suggests there are a number of possible areas for improvement. To name a few, several of us on the commission have noted that our regulations for what is called a station blackout – essentially what happened in Fukushima – do not take into account an extended loss of AC power. Other areas that have drawn attention are spent fuel pools, emergency planning, of course seismic issues, contingency planning for situations beyond the design basis of a plant, and others."
John McCarthy said, "Spent fuel pools, emergency planning. seismic issues....after 50 years, these issues are now coming to mind?" He calls the developments, "extraordinary" and we must agree.
Interestingly, the NRC was on the scene when the berm collapsed less than 12 hours ago.
Again though, if you pay attention to major media or government statements, the minimizing process is well underway.
According to The AP today:
"The NRC says its inspectors were at the plant when the berm failed and have confirmed that the flooding has had no impact on the reactor shutdown cooling or the spent fuel pool cooling."
NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko is set to visit the plant Monday.