Bits and pieces about the Fort Calhoun Nuke Plant in Nebraska:
They are using boric acid in the reactor and the spent fuel pool (CNN);
The "waterproof" turns out to be "aqua dams" and levees in front of the buildings that house key systems (CNN);
Spent fuel dry casks are outside the flood protected area "because they are sealed and bolted down" (Iowa Independent);
2/3 of the active fuel rods are still inside the reactor ("baseless rumor" floating in cyberspace).
On CNN interview, the CEO of the plant says he and his people are battling "blowing in the wind" rumors like the Japanese government over Fukushima I Nuke Plant and radiation contamination. But if you look at the accompanying video, it makes you wonder: why weren't they better prepared, if this flooding was totally expected and it is business as usual, as the CEO tries to tell us?
(By the way, I don't think this video is what CNN intended to upload. The only intended part seems to be the brief interview with the CEO. The rest of the video shows punctured aqua dam, pumping of water from behind the sandbags, not very assuring.)
From CNN (6/28/2011):
Fort Calhoun, Nebraska (CNN) -- Tim Nellenbach is on a mission as he shows a small group of journalists around his workplace. The manager of the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant and his colleagues are bent on dispelling rumors about the condition of their facility: rumors about a meltdown, about a loss of power. The rumors are patently false, they say, and it's frustrating to have to deal with them while also battling a genuine crisis.
These officials are also acutely aware of comparisons to the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in Japan in March, which crippled a nuclear power plant there, leading to the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.
"There's no likelihood of a Fukushima-like incident here," Nellenbach says.
So does Gary Gates, CEO of the Fort Calhoun plant.
"It is not another Fukushima. The difference is the rapid flooding that occurred at Fukushima. This was a predicted event, to a degree, from the Corps of Engineers. The floodwaters at Fort Calhoun are outside the plant. There is no water inside the plant. The reactor is covered with borated water. The spent fuel is covered with borated water, which we want it to be. That's intentional. That's where it should be. The floodwaters are outside Fort Calhoun, not inside," Gates explains.
Still, there is a genuine crisis at the plant. Floodwaters from the swollen Missouri River have engulfed this facility. The parking lots are underwater. The river's fast-paced currents are swirling against several buildings in this compound. Catwalks had to be constructed to allow workers to move from one building to the next. The buildings housing the reactor core, the spent fuel rods and other crucial components are protected by small levees and aqua-berms. But outside those barriers, the water is at least 2 feet above ground level.
The Fort Calhoun plant has 40-foot deep spent fuel pool underground, as well as the above-ground dry cask storage. (Information from wiki)
The Iowa Independent reported on June 24 that the dry casks storage facility is not protected from the flood, because the dry casks are bolted down and secure.
As for the baseless rumor that the 2/3 of the nuclear fuel rods are still inside the reactor, I'd say that was true after all, if they are putting boric acid in the cooling water.
The NRC chairman Jacko, who toured the site on Monday, had these discomforting words to say, according to CNN's article:
"In the end," Jaczko said, "this challenge is yours."
That's eerily reminiscent of the Japanese regulators who have been basically saying this to TEPCO for over 3 months.
I also seem to remember it took TEPCO some time till it finally admitted that the Reactors 5 and 6 were fully loaded with nuclear fuel rods when the earthquake and tsunami hit at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, even though they were still in the scheduled maintenance.
I also remember those official and unofficial "debunkers" going after journalists and bloggers who spread "rumors" in the early days of the Fukushima accident.