Skip to main content

Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant Freed of Enhanced NRC Oversight

Here’s a bit of good news, more than a bit for Nebraskans:

In a letter Monday, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission informed the Omaha Public Power District that Fort Calhoun can return to routine oversight as of Wednesday, joining the 98 other U.S. plants that operate under a normal inspection regimen.

Fort Calhoun was impacted by a flood in 2011. That was also the year of the Fukushima Daiichi accident, so, although Fort Calhoun was never in any danger, the flood around it received a lot of media attention (great video footage of the flooding helped) and a visit from then-NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko to reassure everyone. Still, OPPD had already been under increased NRC scrutiny and that just accelerated:

After a switchgear fire and the discovery of numerous safety violations, the NRC brought together an oversight committee and presented OPPD with hundreds of corrective items to work through.

It was an expensive, lengthy process, and the district floundered at times. As the process dragged on, internal reviews exposed significant management problems at the plant.

OPPD brought in Exelon to help whip the plant into shape.

Fort Calhoun was allowed to restart in December 2013, but the plant remained under increased oversight — until this week.

And that’s where we are now. This story, very well told by the Omaha World-Herald’s Cody Winchester – when he’s not firing off his rootin’ tootin’ six-shooters (seriously, great name) – demonstrates the strength of the nuclear energy industry and its regulator to ensure that nuclear plants are safe. If OPPD hadn’t found solutions to its problems, Fort Calhoun would have closed – and that would have been very unfortunate however necessary.

Mark Salerno, president of the International Brotherhood of Electric Workers Local 1483, which represents about one-quarter of OPPD’s workforce, praised the dedication of Fort Calhoun employees.

“A lot of our people have committed a lot of hours, put in a lot of hours, to get that plant back online,” he said.

Just so.


Sometimes, you can’t win for losing:

"The NRC permitted Edison to design, construct, install and operate defective steam generators, and NRC only came to recognize that there was a problem after there had been an accident involving the release of radiation," Damon Moglen, a senior adviser to the group, wrote in a letter to the agency.

"Such willful ignorance of serious safety risks is an indictment of both the agency and the utility. Neither the NRC nor Edison is absolved by the closure of the reactors," he wrote.

You can read about what happened at San Onofre here. Friends of the Earth, which isn’t happy with nuclear energy whatever the circumstance, doesn’t just make hay when the sun shines (which isn’t all that often for them), it tries to do so where there is no grass. No there there, to paraphrase Gertrude Stein.


Popular posts from this blog

A Billion Miles Under Nuclear Energy (Updated)

And the winner is…Cassini-Huygens, in triple overtime.

The spaceship conceived in 1982 and launched fifteen years later, will crash into Saturn on September 15, after a mission of 19 years and 355 days, powered by the audacity and technical prowess of scientists and engineers from 17 different countries, and 72 pounds of plutonium.

The mission was so successful that it was extended three times; it was intended to last only until 2008.

Since April, the ship has been continuing to orbit Saturn, swinging through the 1,500-mile gap between the planet and its rings, an area not previously explored. This is a good maneuver for a spaceship nearing the end of its mission, since colliding with a rock could end things early.

Cassini will dive a little deeper and plunge toward Saturn’s surface, where it will transmit data until it burns up in the planet’s atmosphere. The radio signal will arrive here early Friday morning, Eastern time. A NASA video explains.

In the years since Cassini has launc…

Sneak Peek

There's an invisible force powering and propelling our way of life.
It's all around us. You can't feel it. Smell it. Or taste it.
But it's there all the same. And if you look close enough, you can see all the amazing and wondrous things it does.
It not only powers our cities and towns.
And all the high-tech things we love.
It gives us the power to invent.
To explore.
To discover.
To create advanced technologies.
This invisible force creates jobs out of thin air.
It adds billions to our economy.
It's on even when we're not.
And stays on no matter what Mother Nature throws at it.
This invisible force takes us to the outer reaches of outer space.
And to the very depths of our oceans.
It brings us together. And it makes us better.
And most importantly, it has the power to do all this in our lifetime while barely leaving a trace.
Some people might say it's kind of unbelievable.
They wonder, what is this new power that does all these extraordinary things?

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.


The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.

What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…