Flood Damaged Nuke Clears One Restart Hurdle

Tuesday, January 10, 2012 @ 04:01 PM gHale


Emergency systems outside Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station can respond to any problem at the reactor, despite damage from last summer’s flooding, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) told nuclear regulators.

Missouri River flooding last year idled the plant and, among other things, closed roads and disabled warning sirens in its vicinity.

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FEMA’s approval of the Omaha Public Power District’s (OPPD) off-site emergency preparedness is a necessary step toward restarting the plant, said company spokesman Jeff Hanson.

When it comes to nuclear accidents, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and utilities are responsible for problems on the reactor’s campus.

FEMA, local and state officials are responsible for matters outside the plant’s perimeter.

“We have no concerns with regards to full-power operation,” Andrew Mitchell, director of FEMA’s Technological Hazards Division wrote to the NRC.

Also on Thursday, the NRC said there will be a January meeting in Omaha during which it will discuss with OPPD its plans for monitoring the struggling nuclear plant. The public will be able to ask questions.

Shut down since April, Fort Calhoun remains on track to resume operation between April and June, Hanson said.

At the height of flooding, some emergency sirens around the plant did not work and some roads flooded. However, officials already evacuated the affected areas and they were confident they could sufficiently route people to safety, said Ron McCabe, FEMA’s chief of technological hazards for this region.

OPPD’s Hanson said all 101 sirens around the plant are now operational.



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