Collapsenet | Today there is a notable uptick in big media coverage of the Nebraska nuclear power plant flooding. Unfortunately key information being published does not fit with the known facts. Here is one prominent example of the misleading and contradictory information being broadcast widely today.
Today, 6/24/11, the New York Times reports that Fort Calhoun is "encircled by the swollen waters of the Missouri River, which reached a height of nearly 1,007 feet above sea level at the plant yesterday." Regarding the plant's defenses, the NYT article also states that Fort Calhoun has implemented "new steel gates and other hard barriers protecting an auxiliary building with vital reactor controls, and a water-filled berm 8 feet tall that encircles other parts of the plant. Both systems are designed to hold back floodwaters reaching 1,014 feet above sea level."
Adding to the concern over this event is that Fort Calhoun recently was sighted by the NRC for inadequate procedures to protect against external flooding. In addition, there was a recent "event notification" to the NRC regarding a potential flooding issue at the plant. Excerpts from the 6/16/2011 report are shown below:
"ADDITIONAL PENETRATION IDENTIFIED FOR MITIGATION DURING WALKDOWN
"Operations identified a potential flooding issue in the Intake Structure 1007 ft. 6 in. level. The area of concern is a the hole in the floor at the 1007 ft. 6 in. level where the relief valve from FP-1A discharge pipe goes through the raw pump bay and discharges into the intake cell. There is one penetration of concern. Flooding through this penetration could have impacted the ability of the station's Raw Water (RW) pumps to perform their design accident mitigation functions.
"Efforts are in progress to seal the penetration.
"This eight-hour notification is being made pursuant to 10 CFR 50.72 (b)(3)(v)."
The licensee notified the NRC Resident Inspector."