Fort Calhoun: Progress but Scrutiny Continues

Lara Uselding
Public Affairs Officer, Region IV

Here are some of the latest statistics related to the ongoing shutdown of the Ft. Calhoun nuclear power plant in Nebraska:

• 27 months being shutdown

• Seven separate NRC team inspections on site in 2013

• About 40 NRC inspectors on site this year

• 15 restart checklist items left to be evaluated and resolved by the plant owner before restart

fcsWhat does this add up to? A nuclear power plant still being scrutinized by the NRC since a 2011 refueling outage followed by record Missouri river floods, a breaker fire and additional restart complications.

Yesterday, the NRC issued the results of a restart readiness inspection at the plant, which is, operated by the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD). The inspection report is a lengthy document detailing 36 findings by NRC inspectors.

A majority of the findings have to do with the plant operator not thoroughly or consistently evaluating and resolving problems within the Corrective Action program. Some of the other findings deal with not following procedures as outlined by plant documents known as technical specifications.

Based on the results of the inspections, the NRC has concluded that five areas on the Confirmatory Action Letter Restart Checklist were adequately addressed by the licensee and will be closed. That means that NRC believes OPPD has appropriately addressed third-party safety culture assessment, quality assurance, integrated organizational effectiveness, human performance, and their review of licensing commitments. A second report issued last week also closes out the area of emergency preparedness.

This means plant’s officials have made improvements in areas that led to their performance decline. For example, OPPD completed a third-party safety culture assessment that gave them a better understanding of human performance, problem identification and resolution, and decision-making deficiencies that led to their performance decline. They have implemented short term actions and are developing long-term action plans to address future performance improvements.

In addition, the NRC has determined that OPPD has successfully addressed the area of organizational effectiveness that translates to improvements in management oversight of facility activities.

NRC has announced the next public meeting will be held in Omaha on July 24. At this meeting, we will present a status of our inspection activities and OPPD will provide an update on their actions.

The NRC will later conduct follow-up inspections to look at the remaining open performance areas and to see if plant personnel, equipment, and processes are ready to support the safe restart.

Author: Moderator

Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

10 thoughts on “Fort Calhoun: Progress but Scrutiny Continues”

  1. I am sorry but I have to respond to myself. I did have a restart concern relative to the Fort Calhoun Station that I thought was already on this blog but I no longer can find it. I will try and reconstruct it.
    Some time ago the NRC mandated that Fort Calhoun and some other plants re-evaluate the adequacy of their site flood protection measures assuming upstream dams on the Missouri River fail. This analysis was to be completed by March of next year. Based on the unprecedented flooding that occurred at Fort Calhoun in 2011 without upstream dam failure, this mandated re-evaluation should be completed before the plant is allowed to restart.

  2. I am impressed with the breadth and thoroughness of the NRC Fort Calhoun inspection efforts. I have a 20/20 hindsight question though. In light of the operability determination (OD) deficiencies identified since the plant has been out of service by the NRC, should the plant have been operated at 100% power during 2010 with all the flood protection deficiencies identified first by the NRC and then by the licensee? Were documented ODs made when a number of serious flood protection deficiencies were first identified? Typically, ODs are written when individual deficiencies are identified to ensure the plant can be operated safely while corrective actions are put in place. Considering the number, extent, and variety of the flood protection deficiencies, was an overall OD made that it was safe to operate the plant until its scheduled refueling outage in April 2011? And finally were these ODs sufficiently rigorous to justify continued operation?

  3. I don’t think it’s worth the risk having one located in a place like the Corn Belt, one of the critical breadbaskets of this country and the world. Was Chernobyll not in the Ukrainian breadbasket?

    But then, having NPPS located in population dense areas, among millions of people, such as farther north and east, is similarly in my opinion not worth the risk.

  4. Hyperbole is becoming an endangered species, so you may have to eat your corn flakes straight.

  5. What have they done to protect against the up stream dam break in 2017.

  6. That’s all great, but I need to hear CaptD’s official determination on the unit’s fitness for restart. My corn flakes go down better with a side order of hyperbole.

  7. Fascinating recent history!

    If that station started operation shortly after its operating license was issued in 1973, that’s a long period of power generation by a site built with late 20th century technology.

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