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.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Knowing What You’ve Got Before It’s Gone in Nuclear Energy

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior director of policy analysis and strategic planning at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

Nuclear energy is by far the largest source of carbon prevention in the United States, but this is a rough time to be in the business of selling electricity due to cheap natural gas and a flood of subsidized renewable energy. Some nuclear plants have closed prematurely, and others likely will follow.
In recent weeks, Exelon and the Omaha Public Power District said that they might close the Clinton, Quad Cities and Fort Calhoun nuclear reactors. As Joni Mitchell’s famous song says, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.”
More than 100 energy and policy experts will gather in a U.S. Senate meeting room on May 19 to talk about how to improve the viability of existing nuclear plants. The event will be webcast, and a link will be available here.
Unlike other energy sources, nuclear power plants get no specia…

Making Clouds for a Living

Donell Banks works at Southern Nuclear’s Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 as a shift supervisor in Operations, but is in the process of transitioning to his newly appointed role as the daily work controls manager. He has been in the nuclear energy industry for about 11 years.

I love what I do because I have the unique opportunity to help shape the direction and influence the culture for the future of nuclear power in the United States. Every single day presents a new challenge, but I wouldn't have it any other way. As a shift supervisor, I was primarily responsible for managing the development of procedures and programs to support operation of the first new nuclear units in the United States in more than 30 years. As the daily work controls manager, I will be responsible for oversight of the execution and scheduling of daily work to ensure organizational readiness to operate the new units.

I envision a nuclear energy industry that leverages the technology of today to improve efficiency…

Nuclear: Energy for All Political Seasons

The electoral college will soon confirm a surprise election result, Donald Trump. However, in the electricity world, there are fewer surprises – physics and economics will continue to apply, and Republicans and Democrats are going to find a lot to like about nuclear energy over the next four years.

In a Trump administration, the carbon conversation is going to be less prominent. But the nuclear value proposition is still there. We bring steady jobs to rural areas, including in the Rust Belt, which put Donald Trump in office. Nuclear plants keep the surrounding communities vibrant.

We hold down electricity costs for the whole economy. We provide energy diversity, reducing the risk of disruption. We are a critical part of America’s industrial infrastructure, and the importance of infrastructure is something that President-Elect Trump has stressed.

One of our infrastructure challenges is natural gas pipelines, which have gotten more congested as extremely low gas prices have pulled m…