Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fort Calhoun Nuke Plant: Borated Water in Reactor, Spent Fuel Pool, Normal Procedure, Says Plant CEO

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.


Anonymous said...

"There's no likelihood of a Fukushima-like incident here."

There is this strange logic by the nuke people to state that incident X cannot possibly be like prior incident Y, like it was said in March Fukushima could not possibly become like Chernobyl (different reactor types, reactors scrammed etc.). This culminated when Fukushima went L7 and they all screamed how "different" the two were. While it is true, no two accidents are alike, it is rhetorically misleading and a cowardly cop out of taking responsibility.

""It is not another Fukushima. The difference is the rapid flooding that occurred at Fukushima."

Of course there is no earthquake or tsunami involved there, we all know that. The point is that the environment is pushing the behavior of the plant into a direction in an unexpected way that might render its dangerous parts uncontrollable while you stand outside watching powerlessly as things unfold. That's the only parallel between any accident.

As long as these people is trying to fool the public by using non-info like this, they cannot be trusted. Simple.

STeVe the JeW said...

"It is not another Fukushima. The difference is..."

The difference is... at Fukushima it took an earthquake and a tsunami to trigger a full-blown nuclear disaster.

In Nebraska all it's going to take is a few more broken water balloons.

Anonymous said...

Definitely a borat moment.. not so much!

Anonymous said...

At 35s you can hear the interviewer ask:

"Lisa, can I interview Gary out here?"

A womans voice answers "yes, but there are a couple of things we can and cannot do"

A third voice chimes in "We don't want to be able to see the multiple fences and how high they are at what time"

There are things they don't want us to see.

Anonymous said...

I wish people would quit saying "Fukushima is the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl." It's the worst (by far) nuclear accident in history. Period.

Anonymous said...

"It is not another Fukushima." And Fukushima wasn't another Chernobyl, either a-hole.

Virtual Vagrant said...

At Chernobyl they said, "This is not a Three Mile Island." At Fukushima they said, "This is not Chernobyl." At Fort Calhoun they said, "This is not Fukushima."
Does anyone see a pattern here?

Anonymous said...

"Does anyone see a pattern here?"

When those same people start saying, "This is neither good governance nor good regulation.", you'll have your pattern confirmation.

It'll probably be paraphrased when it arrives.

Anonymous said...

Robbie001 sez:

It looks like there may be a 10-mile mandatory evacuation around Fort Calhoun the video has aerial footage of the plant after the aqua dam failed.


Anonymous said...

@ Robbie,

Right on schedule, rising floodwaters are much similar to nuclear reactions, they operate by their own rules at THEIR leisure.

Post 9/11, are we to take this expanded zone as indication of a terrorist threat?

Perhaps we should take it as exactly that.

And the AquaDam was only "secondary" defense.

Anonymous said...

"A still-unresolved issue in the dispute is the NRC's contention that OPPD received, but did not properly act on, a warning by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2003. It said high-water threats to the plant should be raised by 3 feet based on a new assessment following severe Missouri River floods in the mid-1990s."

"The NRC cites an updated flood assessment by the corps in 2003 that raised the high-risk flood threat levels by approximately 3 feet. The NRC said OPPD updated its own flood analysis in 2005 but did not mention this flood analysis update when it made changes to its emergency planning. OPPD "did not develop a corrective action plan" to respond to the new information, NRC said.

"We think they had the information, and acted on it, but not in the way they should have," said George. "Their documentation did not reflect that [information]." The matter is still under investigation."

http://www.nytimes.com/cwire/2011/06/24/24climatewire-a-nuclear-plants-flood-defenses-trigger-a-ye-95418.html?pagewanted=2&sq=Ft. Calhoun reactor &st=cse&scp=5

Anonymous said...

Robbie001 sez:

And then there is always this. According to AP the Feds and industry have rewritten U.S. nuclear history to justify reactors running 80 or 100 years when they were originally designed with a 40 year operational life. This story cover the rubber stamp procedure the NRC is using to extend operating licenses to help the ailing nuclear industry. Once again a perfect example of the NRC working for business interest instead of the common interest.


What I want to know is Jaczko going to order a timely 50-mile evacuation zone if things go south at Fort Calhoun? I like how they "say" everything is fine. Where is all the video from Jaczko's safety inspection? How about some 24/7 public webcams inside and out so the concerned members of the public can observe all the safety measures? I'd like to see raw footage of how our nuclear industry responses to a natural disaster. I guess a line of workers carrying gas cans wouldn't inspire confidence much less "D'OH Mr. Burns I ran the Bobcat into the Auqa Dam and it popped like a water balloon"! From what I understand Fort Calhoun is looking at weeks of flooding lets hope none of the main upstream dams fail.


Anonymous said...

"Corps spokesman Erik Blechinger stated, "Nebraska's two nuclear plants aren't being factored into the Army Corps of Engineers schedule of dam releases."

"General, given the heightened state of concern from the public at large regarding the flood's impact on Nebraska's two nuclear facilities, I am certain you are appreciative of the trepidation arising from the above comments by the Corps. As such, I request an expedited response to my questions herein. If you need further information from me in order to respond, please contact me directly or have your staff contact Erick Lutt of my staff at (202) 224-6551.


E. Benjamin Nelson
United States Senator"


Anonymous said...

Senators demand congressional probe on nuke safety

"Three U.S. senators, alarmed by findings of an Associated Press investigation about aging-related problems at the nation's nuclear power plants, are asking for a congressional investigation of safety standards and federal oversight at the facilities."

".. public anxiety over nuclear power has "peaked incredibly," said engineer Paul Blanch, an industry whistleblower .."


The NRC has said it disagrees with Associated Press's conclusions ..


TEPCO is Japan's largest corporate bond issuer

Anonymous said...

St. Louis Post-Dispatch is covering up the fact that there are two Nuclear power plants (Ft. Calhoun and Cooper) surrounded by flood waters and Los Alamos threatened by an out of control wildfire, and removing people who post stories about it in their forum or comments



Not only are they covering it up and trying to humiliate me about it, nearly all these cretins think RADIATION is safe and happy and as American as apple pie and torture.

These two power plants are within 6 hours of St. Louis, so surely its newsworthy. Instead they run stories on American Idol.

If you care about the future of the country, we need to realize the media DOES NOT CARE ABOUT US. As this demonstrates, even when there is a massive threat to a specific area they still do not run the truth.

Anonymous said...

Private sources digs out the truth across all sectors that harms the human race & reports it on the internet but it never reaches the public to busy with other stuff, like putting food on the table.

The fact of Japan's nuke plants releasing nuclear contaminates 24/7 since the day of the quake & fallout has covered the USA & globe. No State has been spared & no real reports from Corporate owned MSM but cover ups. Keep the sheep's minds as far from the truth with sports or non issues. Today they are sking in the N.West in shorts. That snow will melt & flow toward the same dams under record stress. More record rains are forecast for the entire plains States. Man has no control over mother nature, ocean currents, earth quakes, volcanoes, yet they play god with your life. If one dam fails up river FT Calhoun & the nuke plant 150 miles south no one will be prepared for the unknown aftermath of so much water & the debre that will tossed towards the Gulf of Mexico! Just like Japan, no one knows if the whole Island will become a waste land 'if' another quake or more man made errors happen.

The theory of cycles in climate changes has been proved & the government had no money backing these findings, but they damn sure wanted to shut this man up & I see why!http://armstrongeconomics.com/writings. www.MartinArmstrong.org,why did the wall street & the gov want him locked up, the answer is on his sites!

How the U.S. monetary system has been destroyed. The economic system gone & food safety is gone. Why? Government Regulations that stifles competition, but between who? Here is a good answer. http://farmersandfreeholders.org/2011/06/27/restoring-freedom-in-tennessee/. Both of these men have had their share of gov's heavy handed tatics.

Texas is turning into a dust bowl, New Mexico & AZ are burning off the what the progressives tree huggers keep the courts tied up with trying to protect a lizard, now our national treaures are at stake, this madness has to be stopped & it will, when socialism is replaced by fascism & a police state & the wait wont be very long if the people don't act soon to reverse the path our leaders have chosen. Just don't forget to off the lights!

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