Fort Calhoun: A Status Update

Lara Uselding
Public Affairs Officer, Region IV

The NRC will hold a public meeting March 27 to discuss the status of the Fort Calhoun nuclear plant, located 19 miles north of Omaha. As many know, the plant has been shut down since April 9, 2011, for a refueling outage. The outage was extended due to historic flooding along the Missouri River followed by an electrical fire that led to an “Alert” declaration and further restart complications.

We’d like to bring readers up to speed on where we are since January’s blog update and share four new updates.

First, the NRC recently revised the Confirmatory Action Letter (CAL) we originally issued in June 2012, outlining actions Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) had agreed to do before restarting the plant. The revisions added three categories to the restart checklist – OPPD will address containment internal structure issues, the use of Teflon seals on electrical cables passing through containment, and several event reports involving recently identified equipment problems.

This was followed by an update to the detailed 450+ action item list known as the basis document to reflect the three new CAL categories. After conducting independent verification of OPPD’s work, the NRC has closed more than 100 items on the basis document list, although none of the 18 restart checklist categories have been closed.

fcsThe third update is that a 15-member NRC inspection team led by a veteran Senior Resident Inspector Greg Warnick, stationed at another plant, has been on site conducting a thorough inspection and independent verification of Fort Calhoun’s current safety status. The team inspection will provide the NRC a real sense on how much progress OPPD has made in preparing plant systems, structures, components, people and processes for restart. The inspectors are using the basis document’s 450+ items as their guide.

Fourth, an inspection report issued yesterday, lists two NRC-identified issues, including a failure by OPPD to get NRC approval before making changes to the plant’s flood protection strategy. Inspectors also identified that OPPD failed to address a 2012 violation involving six sluice gates and motors that control the flow of water from the Missouri River into the plant’s cooling system. By not following the process to classify these sluice gates as safety related, the intake structure may not properly protect the cooling water system and pumps during a flood.

The public is encouraged to join us in Omaha for the meeting where the NRC staff will be available to answer questions about these topics.

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