As an astounding 195,000 cubic feet of water per second raged past Omaha today, the public was told that the nuclear plant across the flooding river from the city, the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station, poses no danger since it is closed albeit flooded and as of today, operating on emergency electricity, the fourth emergency there in recent days, the second power failure emergency. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) confirmed Sunday that the plant requires electricity to avoid melting the core, even though the plant is "closed."
America's humanitarian disaster is now widespread with twenty states impacted by floods, approximately 48 major active wildfires burning across the United States mainly in the South and Southwest, 1438658 acres scorching, thousands of people displaced and thousands who have lost their homes. The worst yet to come according to Omaha.com.
"Randy Nelson and his wife just bought a camper, knowing their house is flooded. They currently are living in a shopping center parking lot, powerless to do anything but wait.
As tragic as human losing a home to fire or flood is, the ultimate pending disaster might be that which looms at Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station."He said the hardest part is 'patience ... not knowing where you are going to live. It's tough.'" (ABC)
An event report foreshadowed Sunday's emergency involving loss of electricity after the collapse of the nuclear station's aqua-derm that had been placed around the plant to hold the floodwaters out of the plant, as highlighted by Enenews. On June 16, a Nuclear Regulatory Commission's event report included: Ft. Calhoun nuke plant: “Potential flooding issue in the Intake Structure.”
The report stated, “There is one penetration of concern” that could impact water pumps.
"The auxiliary and containment buildings surrounded by water are protected by design to a floodwater level of 1,014 mean sea level," reported Wall Street Journal Sunday. "Missouri River levels aren't expected to exceed 1,008 feet."
Back-up generators are reportedly being used as of Sunday since flooding knocked out the atomic energy plant's electricity around 1am Sunday morning. Are they working? Answering that, ABC reported today, "This will sound familiar — Backup generators are working to cool nuclear materials."
An Associated Press article reporting on the collapse of the flood wall protecting Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant mentions, "The berm's collapse didn't affect the reactor shutdown cooling or the spent fuel pool cooling, but the power supply was cut after water surrounded the main electrical transformers, the NRC said."
"Emergency generators powered the plant Sunday while workers tried to restore power."
Beyond Nuclear highlighted Sunday, "If the emergency diesel generators were also to fail (as by being submerged under flood waters), the final line of defense, in terms of running vital reactor cooling systems, would be the direct current (DC) emergency batteries."
Such batteries at most U.S. atomic reactors only have 4 hours of life according to Beyond Nuclear. (Emphasis added)
Federal government is “so concerned” about Ft. Calhoun, the NRC chairman is in Nebraska for a two-day assessment, due to do a fly-over Fort Calhoun Monday.
How safe is the public?
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission audits only about 5 percent of activities at nuclear plants each year according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Two-thrids of US Nuclear Plants have been leaking radiation and Ft. Calhoun has been among the nation's 14 most dangerous nuclear plants before it was flooded and operating with emergency electricity according to a Nuclear Regulatory Commission letter. (See Special Report: "Nuclear flood threat: 1100 troops, 25,000 homes flooded, NRC chief onsite" (vid)," Dupré, D. June 25, 2011 cited in "Fort Calhoun Nuclear Flood Emergency: Hours from core damage")
A Three-Mile Island survivor stated on Sunday that what is happening at Fort Calhoun Station is like deja-vu. The public is being told there is no nuclear danger, despite the plant's four failures of late: the recent fire, the mechanical failure helicopter crash, the electricity failing (again), and the "aqua-dam" collapse.
No danger? "I love it," stated the Three-Mile Island survivor, now retired. "'There is no danger' is exactly what they said about Three Mile Island!"
Perhaps there is one major difference between Three Mile Island and Fort Calhoun. Locals in the Fort Calhoun area who know workers at the plant are attributing the collapsed berm to a "man-made puncture" according to reports to Dupré.
The Omaha World-Herald reports that Omaha Public Power District admits the anti-flood water filled rubber berm (the "Aqua-dam") failed "due to on-site activities." It is unclear what type of utility "activities" caused the berm's "accidental failure."
The good news?
The river in Minot, N.D., peaked two feet lower than expected. It is, however, nearly 12 feet above flood stage and it is expected to stay near that level for days according to ABC. Flooding is predicted through August.
Dave Van Der Kamp, with the Nebraska Public Power District stated late Sunday, "We built the plant up high enough based on history, based on the flooding in the past. If the flood would rise for some reason above that level, we have taken the precautions, again, per our procediures to sandbag the important equipment for the reactors." (CNN)
According to Van Der Kamp, chances of floodwater getting into the building where the core is kept are almost zero.
Reporting on the distressed Fort Calhoun plant and its latest emergencies in the flood, ABC reported, "There isn't nearly as much water there as there was after the tsunami in Japan."