How Safe are our Nuclear Reactors?

A June 14th picture of the Fort Calhoun plant surrounded by flood waters.

You may recall reading about my concerns about my two daughters who are in Omaha, Nebraska at the moment situated between two nuclear power plants.  One of the plants-the Fort Calhoun plant in Blair Nebraska run by OPPD–is already completely surrounded by water and has been shut down. The second plant at Brownville Nebraska–the Cooper plant run by NPPD–is about 1 1/2 feet of water away from being shut down.  Both face flooding and are part of a more serious problem. The biggest problem is they are both very old and none of the nuclear plants in this country would get renewed licenses to operate if it wasn’t for loosening of regulatory standards by our NRC.

I initially began my search for more on the possible danger to my daughters when I read about the two Nebraska reactors having ‘incidents’.  The mainstream media isn’t really reporting the story.  After reading so much about the flooding that devastated the Fukushima plant in Japan that started a spiral to meltdowns, I became concerned about the possibility of  a similar situation in the Nebraska plants.

Tensions are also rising over two U.S. nuclear reactors in Nebraska located on the banks of the Missouri River, which is now at flood stage. On June 20, the Omaha, Nebraska World Herald reported that flood waters from the Missouri River came within 18 inches of forcing the Cooper Nuclear Station near Brownville, Nebraska, to shut down. Officials are poised to shut down the Cooper plant when river reaches a level of 902 feet above sea level. The plant is 903 feet above sea level. The Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant, 20 miles north of Omaha, issued a “Notification of Unusual Event” to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on June 6 due to local flooding. That plant is currently shut down for refueling, but will not restart because of the flooding. Compounding worries over these two plants is a shortage of sand needed to fill massive numbers of sandbags to hold off Missouri River floodwaters. One ton of sand makes just 60 sandbags, and hundreds of thousands of sandbags are needed to help save towns along the river from flooding. Sand is obtained from dredging the riverbed — and the companies that sell sand can’t dredge the river while it is flooding. These plants are already in a risky situation, and the flooding in Nebraska could easily be worsened just by a summer afternoon cloudburst.

A few days later and a big up to my mom anxiety, Minx found a wild internet story at some Pakistani website about there being some kind of massive meltdown in one of the plants that was being ‘covered up.’  Operators of both plants and the NRC have both denied the rumors and have insisted the plants are in no danger.  The story is way over the top, but I found other things that are very worrisome that are not. Read the rest of this entry »