Nebraska Nuclear Sites Remain Safe

Mary Claire Birdsong

I just learned about minor safety measures taking place in two nuclear plants in Nebraska. While flooding is a difficult and at times destructive event for many people and structures affected by intruding water, this situation demonstrates reliable safety plans in the nuclear reactors throughout the U.S. The more the public grows familiar with the basics of nuclear plant operation, including safety measures, the greater level of comfort and security we will appreciate in nuclear power.

The Missouri River’s record rise in recent weeks reached two nuclear power plants today, June 22, 2011. Flood response plans remain in effect for both plants. The plant at Fort Calhoun, near Omaha, Nebraska, received approximately two feet of water onsite. The other Nebraska plant, Cooper Nuclear Station, in Brownsville, is 70 miles away from Lincoln and Omaha, and was already shut down for routine refueling in early April. I could not tell from the report if Cooper Station had water onsite or not. The Fort Calhoun plant, which could be shut down within seconds if needed, and the Cooper Nuclear Station will remain on the declaration of an “unusual event,” which is the lowest level of emergency designation. An unusual event means they are taking extra precautions with observation and the addition of three on-site inspectors and a branch chief. If flood water intrudes by an additional two feet, the Fort Calhoun plan will be shut down.

I will follow up on this as flood water either recedes or increases in the days to come.


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