"Some Progress" Made Toward Restarting Troubled Ft. Calhoun Nuclear Plant
OPPD admits there's still "a lot of work to be done".
OPPD admits there's still "a lot of work to be done". Video by kmtv.comvideo
Blair, NE -- By all accounts, it's a slow go when it comes to restarting Fort Calhoun Station. Dozens of people gathered for a progress report on the efforts to get the nuclear facility back on line. The nuclear power plant has been shut down since before the Missouri River flooded last year. Texas based firm Exelon Generation, has been at Ft. Calhoun since January working with OPPD. While some improvements have been made, the road to restarting the nuclear station is still very long.
Tuesday's meeting with OPPD, Exelon and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission comes with mixed news. Jeff Clark with NRC said, "We have seen some progress in the last few weeks and months. However, we as the NRC are not in place, as of yet, that we can any final conclusions as to what we've seen in this area."
Meaning - there is still a lot of work to do before Ft. Calhoun can restart. Mike Prospero is the plant manager at Ft. Calhoun. He has over 20-years of experience with Exelon. "In order to safely complete the repairs necessary to return Fort Calhoun to operation, the nuclear fuel is being removed from the reactor and safely stored in a spent fuel pool," he explained to the public.
Teams discovered the structural design to Fort Calhoun is also flawed. Supervising Nuclear Engineer Jay Cate explained the, "concern is for internal walls and beams that support equipment inside the building."
In addition, OPPD learned a fire that broke out in an electrical panel did more damage than previously thought. The fire tripped another breaker causing more damage.
While the to-do list is still long, some problems have been fixed. NRC reports about 30% of the damage from the flooding has been completed. "These include things like: inspection of underground cables, vaults, piping, the inspection of the sirens associated with emergency preparedness and security systems and barriers around the facility," stated Clark.
Another reason NRC gave Ft. Calhoun a failing grade was due to performance issues. Exelon reports their top priority is safety, and it's been accomplished. OPPD Spokesperson Jeff Hanson added, "People are stopping and thinking about things before they do them. They're not making mistakes, they're checking out what they should be doing, following the check lists the way they should be - where as before it was 'well this is a regular test I've done this a hundred times, I'll just go in and do it again'."
OPPD hopes to warm the reactors in December. The goal is to be ready for inspection by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by the first of the year.
Reported By: Liz Dorland, firstname.lastname@example.org