Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station Fire causes Cooling Pumps to shut down

With Australian government wanting to commit to nuclear power it is important to understand the risks involved are great.  The recent Fukushima meltdown was evidence of how nuclear energy can not adequately be safeguarded from natural disasters, or in Chernobyl from inadequate control.I recently heard Mr Ziggy Switkowski telling us how Australia needs nuclear energy and how safe it it.  I would like to give mr Switkowski a holiday to a wonderful resort just outside of Fukushima, Japan to relax and soak up the rays and ponder nuclear energy, but somehow i dont think he would except.Below is a report from Omaha Public Power Authority.  They have a nuclear reactor at risk of being flooded.  They have also had some small fires knocking out the cooling system for spent nuclear rods.  But nothing to worry about.  Nuclear power is safe ??

Flooded nuclear power station Fort Calhoun Nebraska

Safe nuclear power

Flood Rumor ControlFollowing are responses to flood-related rumors that OPPD has heard about.Rumor: Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station is at a Level 4 emergency or level 4 alert.

  • This terminology is not accurate, and is not how emergencies at nuclear power plants are classified.
  • Fort Calhoun Station (FCS) declared a Notification of Unusual Event (NOUE) on June 6.
  • A NOUE is the least-serious of four emergency classifications established by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
  • FCS declared a NOUE because the Missouri River was projected to reach 1,004 feet above mean sea level. (It reached that height on June 9.)
  • The FCS plant’s reactor has been in cold shut down for a planned refueling outage since April 9. It will remain in that condition until the river recedes.
  • The reactor and spent-fuel pool are in a normal, stable condition and are both protected; there has been no release of radioactivity and none is expected.

Rumor: A no-fly zone was set up around Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station because of a release of radiation, similar to what happened with the Fukushima reactors in Japan.

  • There has been no release of radioactivity at Fort Calhoun Station due to the flooding and none is expected.
  • The flight restrictions were set up by the FAA as a result of Missouri river flooding.
  • OPPD’s extensive, preplanned actions to protect the FCS reactor and spent-fuel pool from the floodwaters have been effective.
  • The reactor is housed in a watertight containment building, and is in a normal and safe “cold shutdown” condition, covered by more than 23 feet of purified reactor coolant water.
  • In addition, OPPD has installed Aqua Dams® and other berms around such vital equipment and buildings at the FCS site.

Rumor: Because of a fire at Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station on June 7, the plant’s spent-fuel pool was in danger of boiling and releasing radioactivity.

  • There was no such imminent danger with the Fort Calhoun Station spent-fuel pool.
  • Due to a fire in an electrical switchgear room at FCS on the morning of June 7, the plant temporarily lost power to a pump that cools the spent-fuel pool.
  • The fire-suppression system in that switchgear room operated as designed, extinguishing the fire quickly.
  • FCS plant operators switched the spent-fuel pool cooling system to an installed backup pump about 90 minutes after the loss of power.
  • During the interruption of cooling, temperature of the pool increased a few degrees, but the pool was never in danger of boiling.
  • Due to this situation, FCS declared an Alert at about 9:40 a.m. on June 7.
  • An alert is the second-least-serious of four emergency classifications established by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
  • At about 1:15 p.m. on June 7, FCS operators declared they had taken all appropriate measures to safely return to the previously declared Notification of Unusual Event emergency classification. (See first item above.)

Rumor: OPPD will run out of coal if railroads cannot reach the plants.

  • Currently, trains are arriving at both of OPPD’s coal-fired power plants. OPPD and a private contractor have raised the tracks at Nebraska City Station to allow coal to continue to be delivered to the plant.
  • OPPD has several months’ worth of coal already on plant sites.

Rumor: A red flag tied to an overhead power line means OPPD has – or is about to – de-energize that line and cut power to the area.

  • An orange ball or red flag on an overhead line serves as a warning to alert aircraft and operators of heavy equipment of an energized line.
  • A red flag on a power pole means power has been disconnected at that pole.
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