Floodwaters Surge At Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant After Floodwall Fails

Tyler Durden's picture

We hadn't previously discussed the situation at the Fort Calhoun, Nebraska nuclear power plant, as there was still a possibility that it was containable, and the deterioration had been largely blown out of proportion. Alas now that the Missouri River flood waters have penetrated the last ditch water-filled wall, and have since surrounded the  containment buildings and other vital areas of a Nebraska nuclear plant, it may be time to get a little more concerned. As Reuters reports, "The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said the breach in the 2,000-foot (600 meters) inflatable berm around the Fort Calhoun station occurred around 1:25 a.m. local time. More than 2 feet (60 cm) of water rushed in around containment buildings and electrical transformers at the 478-megawatt facility located 20 miles (30 km) north of Omaha." Naturally, the severity of the situation is being downplayed by the NRC, very much the way Tepco and Japanese authorities pretended the Fukushima situation was under control, until it was uncovered that there had been plant meltdown within hours of the tsunami: "Reactor shutdown cooling and spent-fuel pool cooling were unaffected, the NRC said. The plant, operated by the Omaha Public Power District, has been off line since April for refueling." That's one version of the story. A far better one would be calling up the Octogenarian of Omaha and upon getting voicemail, inquiring in what part of the world he is currently residing until the Fort Calhoun situation is actually fixed. To everyone else, we would merely suggest they copycat Buffet, especially after seeing the picture of the plant below (taken June 16, which means the situation now is far worse), which makes the flooding at Fukushima look tame by comparison.

More from Reuters:

Crews activated emergency diesel generators after the breach, but restored normal electrical power by Sunday afternoon, the NRC said.

Buildings at the Fort Calhoun plant are watertight, the agency said. It noted that the cause of the berm breach is under investigation.

NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko and other officials planned to visit the site on Monday.

Jaczko will also visit the Cooper Nuclear Station near Brownville, Nebraska, another facility that has been watched closely with Missouri River waters rising from heavy rains and snow melt.

And some more from the Omaha World Herald:

“We put up the aqua-berm as additional protection,” said OPPD spokesman Mike Jones. “(The plant) is in the same situation it would have been in if the berm had not been added. We're still within NRC regulations.”

According to the NRC, the berm was eight-feet tall and 16-feet wide at the base. It was designed to provide protection for the plant's "powerblock" for up to six feet of water. Crews will look at whether it can be patched, OPPD officials said.

On Sunday, floodwater surrounded the nuclear plant's main electrical transformers, and power was transferred to emergency diesel generators.

OPPD officials said the transfer was precautionary because of water leaking around the concrete berm surrounding the main transformers.

Efforts were underway to reconnect to offsite power once all safety checks have been completed.

The floodwaters also surrounded auxiliary and containment buildings, which are designed to handle water up to 1,014 feet above sea level. The Missouri River is at 1,006.3 feet and isn't expected to exceed 1008 feet.

Once again, the NRC is here to save the day:

The NRC says its inspectors were at the plant when the berm failed and have confirmed that the flooding has had no impact on the reactor shutdown cooling or the spent fuel pool cooling.

In a statement released Wednesday, the NRC said there is a separate, earthen berm to protect the electrical switchyard and a concrete barrier surrounding electrical transformers.

Last week, the NRC augmented its inspection staff at Fort Calhoun. In addition to the two resident inspectors, three more inspectors and a branch chief were added to provide around the clock coverage of plant activities.

Both Fort Calhoun and Cooper Nuclear Plant, in Brownville, Neb., remain under “unusual event” declarations, the lowest of four levels of emergency notification.

Naturally, by the time the "unusual event" declarations escalate, it just may be too late.

That said, we urge readers situated in the vicinity to carefully consider their relocation alternatives, and until there is further clarity on the NPP flood, to possibly shift to safer environs.

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mophead's picture

Financial repression at its worst: creative destruction. The grand reset continues.

Fish Gone Bad's picture

Some days I get up and wish I was not so damned old.  The ongoing shitstorms are happening so frequently they are becoming the new "normal". 

trav7777's picture

hope y'alls bugout ranches aren't downwind lol

Libertarians for Prosperity's picture

As a strict Ron Paul libertarian, I hope the government doesn't spend our tax dollars to help contain or secure this nuclear problem in Omaha.  When asked about the Mississippi River flooding on Good Morning America last month, RP said, "If it’s too dangerous (for people to live there), why dump the responsibility on the taxpayer?”

If some people make the bad decision to live near rivers or oceans or nuclear power plants or volcanos or cracks in the Earth's crust, it is not my responsibility to bail them out when disaster strikes.  When are we, as a nation, finally going to return to the cruel, unforgiving principles of social darwinism and survival of the fittest, rather than continuously trying to help people in need? 

Ron Paul/Social Darwinism/Sink or Swim 2012


Ahmeexnal's picture

Ron Paul doesn't have the slightest chance of winning against Bachmann. Unless he gets himself a pair of 38DD breast implants.

Oh regional Indian's picture

Hah on Paul.


But Re. Fort Calhoun, some of us have been on it for a while now:





CrazyCooter's picture

I think you are (intentionally/satirically) conflating two things:

  • Nuclear disasters are the gov'ts business and anything that can be done to contain/prevent the crisis should be done
  • If you build a house in a flood plain, it should have the K-Mart guarantee - you got it, its yours



Jack Napier's picture

Dr. Paul is a supposed Christian who has numerous family members in the masonic order which worships the great architect with people of any faith. One world religion, blasphemy, and an obvious shill.

jeff montanye's picture

one's probably as likely as the other (religions that is).  paul is refreshingly different and what's that other thing, oh yeah, right about the evil turn toward police state that has so accelerated here in the last decade.  he ain't perfect, not even close, but he certainly opens up the debate.

pcrs's picture

I think you would have no problem raising money voluntarily to contain a nucleair spill. People tend not to like that. It would be far more easy than raising money voluntarily to drop bombs on brown people living on our oil.

ibjamming's picture

How about FEEDING black/brown people too...I'm tired of being robbed to pay for that...can we make THAT voluntary too?

Cathartes Aura's picture

when you stop STEALING from "black/brown" people to guarantee your economic "lifestyle" - then sure, it will all even out.

Ahmeexnal's picture

Nothing to worry about. Teleprompter in chief has everything under control.

He's monitoring the whole situation between holes playing golf in South Africa.


ZerOhead's picture

Let's see now... 1,014 ft minus 'expected' 1008 ft... hmmmm...

So things are expected to be 'six feet under'?

(That doesn't sound so good...)

Sambo's picture

situation is indeed 'grave'

Mec-sick-o's picture

So reactor is now naturally "entombed"?

Apeman's picture

The water has 'crossed' the berm

Out9922's picture

Now I know why Fema needed 8 million underwater bodybags.  Flooding will be unreal this summer

Whoa Dammit's picture

Gotta love the high tech "let's use a giant inner tube" approach to protecting nuke plants from flood waters.<sarcasm>

I see that worked real well for them. Maybe next time (assuming we live through this time) someone who isn't suicial will be in charge of distaster prevention.

goldfish1's picture

Gotta love the high tech "let's use a giant inner tube" approach to protecting nuke plants from flood waters.



blunderdog's picture

No one could ever have foreseen a FLOOD.  Come on, be nice.

Oh regional Indian's picture

Huhhhhhhhhhhah! Indeed blunderdog. Floods in the M/M delta? Nevah. Not in a million years.


A_MacLaren's picture

Where's the picture of Alfred E Newman when you want one? What, me worry?



bob_dabolina's picture

Oh golly.

In far more important news:

Yum, yum, eat up: Test-tube beefburger made from mince grown from stem cells is on the way
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2008347/Eat-Test-tube-hamburger-mince-grown-stem-cells-way.html#ixzz1QQKnBpIf

bob_dabolina's picture

I have no idea what that is. It looked like a bunch of random lines moving around.

ZerOhead's picture

Big big big problem heading our way...


The Lie..

"The [Ft. Calhoun] plant is designed to withstand waters up to 1,014 feet above mean sea level, according to the OPPD."

However the plant was not actually "designed" for the 1014 ft flood level at all. Whether sufficient "improvements" to the original design have been implemented properly is anyone's guess. The plant was originally created to:

"The precise level -- 1,009.5 feet -- is written into the plant's operating licenses as a flooding 'design basis' threat that the plant must be guarded against." (NYT)

Here's the Omaha Public Power's solution to historic floodwaters lapping at their reactor:

"OPPD planned to extend the barrier to 1,014 feet by stacking sandbags on top of some steel floodgates that protected the auxiliary building, and to use more sandbags to safeguard the water intake structure and its essential cooling water pumps. "

"But a year ago, those new defenses were not in place, and the plant's hard barriers could have failed against a 1,010-foot flood ... at flooding levels above 1,008 feet, the plant "would experience a loss of offsite power and loss of intake structure" (NYT)


The OPPD remains out of jail and in control of the situation. Its spokesman Michael Jones explained:

"We presented our analysis to [NRC] which we felt indicated that the design basis [for the flooding threat] should remain 1,009 feet," rather than 1,014 feet, he said." (NYT)

The current river level is just below 1007 feet.

"At 1,008.5 feet, the technical support center used by emergency technicians would have been inundated... At 1,010 feet, water would begin to enter the auxiliary building, "shorting power and submerging pumps. The plant could then experience a station blackout with core damage estimated within 15 to 18 hours..." (NYT)


And the reactor is NOT in COLD SHUTDOWN. It is merely in SHUTDOWN and requires cooling from electrical pumps which... if the river continues to rise... will soon lose power.

Sandbags ladies and gentlemen... yes sandbags are the only thing that will stand in the way if the river rises TWO and a half more feet.

Have a nice day!

knukles's picture

So lemme see if I can get this right.
Methinks even those dumb as door-stopper can figure this out if they read the article and look at the linked map.... 

The article says that the place can handle waters as high as 1014 feet (Altho also says that the buildings are water tight, so fucking go figure that shit out, Mr. Wiggleroom.) as per...


"The floodwaters also surrounded auxiliary and containment buildings, which are designed to handle water up to 1,014 feet above sea level. The Missouri River is at 1,006.3 feet and isn't expected to exceed 1008 feet."

And the NOAA forecast for the area is for waters to hit 1016 feet.
Well, by my own feeble unimaginative calculations, that says that the heretofore watertight buildings are going to be water soaked pretty damned shortly (as in circuits fried)...

Just the Titanic Syndrome.

And, of all the fucking coincidences in the world, FEMA had ordered a $bazillion (as in a whole $ shit load) emergency food rations of extremely unusual half life (food rats, not the shit that's gonna hit the fan, interesting tho, huh?)for storage/distribution in the areas surrounding the New Madrid fault (in the immediate neighborhood when measured in terms of radioactive nueleotides) citing just being on top of their game for something unanticipated but a great excuse for an exercise.

Now, I sure as poopin' in the pond don't want to start any conspiracy theories, stoke the rumor mills, get everybody going or even elicit a few hunkie-dorie comments here on ZH, but doesn't that all just seem a little too.... well.... coinci-fucking-dental?

Zero Govt's picture

You mean "fuking good" right? ...the nuclear industries prospects are looking fuking good, get in there Monday on the markets and "buy, buy, buy" those shares, it's a watery winner from Tokyo to America

LowProfile's picture

"Thunderstorms in vicinity " 

Tonight: Showers and thunderstorms likely. Some storms could be severe, with heavy rain. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 69. Southeast wind between 7 and 14 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New rainfall amounts between 1 and 2 inches possible.  As of 8PM EST http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?CityName=Fort+Calhoun&state=NE&...

So to answer your question that would be "no", as in "Ah, fuck that's totalfuckingly fucking fucked and on it's fucking way to fucking FUBAR".

Zero Govt's picture

that's a lot of fucks! ...i always thought you could only get fucked once, once you're fucked, you're fucked!

i suppose we should never underestimate Govt though, i mean how do you fuk-up everything from;

US property


Trains, transport and automobiles

Education and the students are fuked

US Banking

Farming & Forestry

Oil, coal and nuclear

the US Govt finances are fuked

..and how do you fuk-up the peace when your countries borders and its citizens have not been threatened in 80 years???

...these are BIG fuk-ups, US Govt fuk-ups that never seem to end

LowProfile's picture

...these are BIG fuk-ups, US Govt fuk-ups that never seem to end

...Ya think?

cosmictrainwreck's picture

"we're from the government....and we're here to help you"

CrazyCooter's picture


Don't underestimate the impact to world food supply when an old nuclear plant goes tits up in the middle of America's bread basket. I would argue this is probably the most important global implication without exception should this disaster escilate.

Look up the wiki on Nebraska population. Do the same for surrounding states. Calc the average person-per-acre for a good "fall out range". If this facility goes tits up, it will directly kill very few, if any, but it will starve ... millions?



fuu's picture

Kansas City, St Louis, Memphis, and New Orleans are all down river.

Cathartes Aura's picture

It's mostly highly subsidised GMO-corn & soybeans, and the cattle they fed that shit too prior to hu-man consumption - but I take your point - it's not going to be pretty.

Third day in a row where we started with beautiful blue skies & within hours of watching the planes criss-crossing the sky, the usual whiteout that's been ongoing for months. . . west coast makes the rain clouds that get steered to the Mid-West for "record" tornado action, "unprecedented" rainfall, "record-breaking" flood levels. . . ahhh, the great hand of "weather modification" courtesy of those who run the show. . .

you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.


goldfish1's picture

the great hand


those sub human rats and their offspring need to be dug outta their holes and given the extermination treatment

Let em push you around's picture

Funny, there has been an abrupt cessation of chemtrail in metro phoenix.

And don't say that it's because of the low humidity - when we recently went through a period of record low humidity for several days there were still plenty of chemmies.

Big mystery why there are so many fires lately in AZ? Not really.


SWRichmond's picture

And the NOAA forecast for the area is for waters to hit 1016 feet.


Arch Duke Ferdinand's picture

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