March 18, 2019– Mary Greeley News – The spent nuclear fuel stored on an elevated concrete pad on the Omaha Public Power District property that hosted the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station is safe from the flooding of 2019, OPPD officials say.
OPPD is decommissioning and deconstructing the former nuclear power plant north of Omaha that saw significant flooding in 2011. Many of the plant’s items that came into contact with radiation during its operations have been removed from the site for safe storage, said Cris Averett, an OPPD spokesman.
The parts that remain have been protected from Missouri River floodwaters with artificial barriers and sandbags, officials said. The water currently is about two feet lower than in 2011, when the site was flooded for months, Averett said. The concrete pad for the spent fuel was built five feet higher than the peak floodwaters reached in 2011, OPPD says.
The fuel sits inside steel-lined, air-tight, waterproof concrete casings on the pad.
People started filling sandbags and setting up barriers around parts of the property late last week, officials said. Only essential staff are on the property. “The public is safe,” Averett said. We are watching and monitoring very closely.”
Rising water levels along the Missouri River forced the Omaha Public Power District to shift its response to the Nebraska City Station.
Gauges in place in waterways may have been damaged because of debris and ice in the river and tributaries.
Officials have been focusing on plant protection after river waters started encroaching on the levee. They decided to power down the plant on Friday night. This was done as a safety measure in light of the flooding threat.
There were concerns that floodwaters would overtop the levee that helps protect the plant. A lower-lying area on the levee about one mile south of the plant is being closely monitored as waters rise. OPPD will also use aerial inspections to monitor the levee.
Officials said a handful of essential employees will remain at the plant to monitor the shutdown, even after sandbag protection measures ended.
The two other generation plants along the river – North Omaha and Fort Calhoun – are “in good shape with their flood preparations.”