Fort Calhoun under new management

21 August 2012

Exelon Generation is to take on the management of the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant under an operating services agreement with Omaha Public Power District (OPPD). The plant has been offline since April 2011 and regulators must be satisfied with safety before restart.

Fort Calhoun (OPPD)_200
Fort Calhoun (Image: OPPD)

Fort Calhoun's single 478 MWe pressurised water reactor has been in an extended shutdown since April 2011, after flooding of the Missouri River interrupted a scheduled refuelling outage. Exelon Nuclear Partners, a division of Exelon Generation, has been assisting in the 'recovery' of the plant since January. Now the company is set to increase its involvement, providing day-to-day operations management. OPPD will remain the plant's owner and licensed operator, and the plant will be staffed by a blended team of OPPD and Exelon employees.

OPPD president and CEO Gary Gates said that the arrangement was consistent with other business models being used for single-unit nuclear utilities, and would provide the economies of scale and expertise of a large fleet while maintaining local ownership. "While we have made significant progress in our recovery efforts, this operating agreement will help take Fort Calhoun Station to the next level," he said, adding that the application of Exelon's nuclear management model and proven best practices would ensure the plant's future sustainability and productivity.

The summer of 2011 saw the Missouri River flood to historic levels. OPPD declared an 'unusual event' at Fort Calhoun that June, when flood waters reached 1004 feet (306 metres) above mean sea level. The official flood warning was lifted at the plant 84 days later. Fort Calhoun was designed to withstand floods up to 1014 feet (306 metres) above mean see level: the flood waters peaked at 1006 feet.

OPPD took numerous actions during the flooding to protect the plant, including the installation of berms and temporary AquaDams around main plant buildings. As the waters receded, work began to assess and correct the flood's impact on plant operations, with OPPD submitting its recovery plan to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in August 2011. The unit will remain offline until all issues have been addressed and the NRC and OPPD agree it is safe to restart the plant.

Exelon Nuclear operates the largest nuclear fleet in the USA - 17 reactors across ten power stations in Illinois, Pennsylvania and New Jersey - and has ownership interests in a further four nuclear power stations in New York, Maryland and New Jersey.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News