Monday, June 27, 2011

Berm Fails at Nebraska Nuclear Plant

A berm holding back floodwaters at Nebraska's Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant failed at 1:30 AM Sunday morning local time. The Missouri River is now up against the containment and auxiliary buildings. According to an AP story, no water has entered the plant, but they did lose power, then switched to emergency diesel generators to run cooling to the reactor and the spent fuel pool. Later in the afternoon, workers restored primary power.

Water at the Cooper nuclear powerplant is 4 feet from the building/spent fuel pool base.  Unlike Fort Calhoun, the Cooper plant is running full bore.  I believe that if I were in charge, I would scram it, just in case.

There are some odd rumors going around about cracking of the Gavins Point dam, and possible plans to blow up a part of the dam to save the rest.  These rumors do not seem to be substantive, but I would certainly not want to be in the potential floodplain regardless.

Update:  Some more details from the New York Times:
Before dawn, a piece of heavy equipment nicked an eight-foot-high, 2,000-foot-long temporary rubber berm, and it deflated. Water also began to approach electrical equipment, which prompted operators to cut themselves off from the grid and start up diesel generators. (It returned to grid power later Sunday.)
These big sausage-like water-filled berms seem to be rather fragile.

Concerns were raised a long time ago about the possibility of flooding damaging the plant.  The New York Times has a great article here describing the scenario.

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