Flood alert lifted at Fort Calhoun

31 August 2011

The 'notification of unusual event' that had been in place for some 84 days at the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant in Nebraska has now been lifted as water levels in the swollen Missouri River continue to drop. The single 482 MWe pressurized water reactor at the plant has been in safe shutdown since 9 April, when it entered a scheduled refuelling outage. Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) declared the notification - the least-serious of four emergency classifications that are standard in the US nuclear industry - on 6 June. The company notified the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that Fort Calhoun exited the alert on 29 August as the level of the Missouri River had dropped to below 1004 feet (306 metres) above mean sea level. OPPD vice president and chief nuclear officer Dave Bannister noted, "We have a great deal of work to do before we start generating power. First and foremost, we must check for any hidden damage that the water on site may have caused, so that we are certain we will operate safely." The company said that no significant damage had been found so far. OPPD has submitted a plan to the NRC on the steps it will take prior to restarting the plant. Nebraska Public Power District's Cooper plant, also located on the Missouri River, exited its notification of unusual event on 12 July.