Hopefully USACE plans finally will include the Fort Calhoun site of last years possible Level 4 Nuclear Accident in Nebraska “U.S. Army Corps of Engineers no current safety plan”

Posted on May 5, 2012


Last year we broke the story of the possible risk of a Level 4 Nuclear Accident in Nebraska because of the “U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has no current safety plan” the concerns mounted as Nebraska Senator E. Benjamin Nelson demanded that General McMahon of the “Army Corps of Engineers” act to address the safety of Nebraska’s nuclear power plants a top priority for flood management, we had reported this story:

After several calls to various offices of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers I was not able to get any information or documentation on a current safety plan for flooding occurring at the Level 4 Nuclear Accident in Fort Calhoun Nebraska.

With mounting concerns for Public Safety and the continued flooding at the Plant, the USACE notified me that they do not currently have a plan in regards to public safety, possible release of radiation into the waterways or for the threat of additional risks or safety in regards to further breaches with the Level 4 Nuclear threat still unresolved.

Fort Calhoun’s single reactor has been shut down since April for refueling. The plant had already been operating under a heightened level of alert because of nearby flooding on the Missouri River, and now with last week’s fire in an electrical switch room last Tuesday’s, the intermittent interruption of the cooling system for a pool holding spent nuclear fuel at the Fort Calhoun nuclear plant leaves residents unsettled.

With conflicting reports from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Eliot Brenner saying power was restored to the first pump in about two hours, the utility, the Omaha Public Power District, which operates the plant said it took only one hour.

With a population of 20,639 within 10 miles of Fort Calhoun; and nearby area’s the population within 50 miles was 953,410. The closest major city is Omaha, with a population of 408,958, whose center is less than 18 miles (29 km) from the plant.

Many families and citizen are asking for some kind of emergency action and response from Lt. Colonel Antwerp and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who are in control of Flood levels from dams and spillways along the area.

UPDATE as of 2:42PM EDT Jun 16 2011 – Paul Johnston of the Joint information HUB with USACE left a message that there is no emergency plan with the Flooding at the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant with the current flooding or plans to advert floodwaters away and it is not there responsiblity, it is Omaha Power District. Kyla from the same office did offer a better solution she directed me to their FACEBOOK Page – Operation Mighty MO, so is that were we are keeping the Nations Emergency Response Plans and Public Safety now?

Here is the 2012 update from the USACE on critical portions of this area, Hopefully USACE plans finally will include the Fort Calhoun site:

From: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Kevin.M.Wingert
Subject: Corps to conduct damage assessment at Gavins Point Dam
To: tinaquizon@rocketmail.com
Date: Friday, May 4, 2012, 5:03 PM

For Immediate Release: May 4, 2012
Contact: Kevin Wingert
Phone: 402-995-2418

Corps to Conduct Damage Assessment at Gavins Point Dam

OMAHA, Neb. — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, will conduct damage assessments on Wednesday, May 9, of the spillway slabs at Gavins Point Dam.

The investigation is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. and will include the use of ground penetrating radar and other investigative methods. To conduct this type of testing, releases from Gavins Point Dam will need to be reduced to zero to dewater the uppermost portion of the spillway. Flows from Gavins Point will remain at zero for no more than 8 hours.

Beginning at 6 a.m., releases will be reduced from the current rate of 25,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) in increments of 9,000 cfs per hour until a release of ze ro is reached. Following the completion of the testing, releases will be increased to pre-assessment levels over several hours. Releases have not been reduced to zero since the early years of Gavins Point. The lowest in recent memory was during the 1993 flood when releases were ranged from 6,000 to 9,000 cfs for about a month.

“Preliminary assessments of damages sustained at the Gavins Point Dam project in the aftermath of the Flood of 2011 indicate minor damage to a number of areas on the spillway slab,” said John Remus, Chief of the Omaha District Hydrologic Engineering Branch. “In order to properly assess the damage and develop corrective measures, the upper portion of the spillway slab must be dewatered.”

The assessments are being conducted now in order to develop and implement corrective measures by the spring of 2013.

“While the slab area has sustained damaged, interim repairs have been made to allow for the full use of the spillway if needed,” said John Bertino, Chief of the Omaha District’s Engineering Division. “However, it is prudent from both a cost and dam safety point of view to fully restore the condition of the spillway to minimize the risk of developing more severe damage under future operation.”

The flow reduction will result in the following approximate stage reductions:

— 8.0 feet at Yankton, S.D. during the afternoon of May 9

— 5.0 feet at Sioux City, Iowa on begin late in the day on May 10

— 2.8 feet at Omaha, Neb. on May 12 and 13

Stage reductions at Yankton, Sioux City and Omaha are expected to last for approximately 12 hours, 24 hours and 48 hours, respectively. Missouri River stages in locations below Omaha will be impacted but to a lesser degree. Stage reductions are expected to be less if tributary inflows increase due to rain events below Gavins Point Dam.
The Corps has done extensive coordination with municipal and industrial water intake operators, marinas, boat operators and others that may be impacted by the reduction in stage along the river.

Releases from upstream reservoirs will be adjusted to maintain the pool levels at Gavins Point Dam. These adjustments will be coordinated with Western Area Power Administration.

The spillway slabs must be dry to successfully conduct the assessments. If there is inclement weather on May 9, the test will be moved to May 10 or 11. The Northwestern Division Missouri River Basin Water Management Office and engineers in the Omaha District will monitor the situation closely and make any necessary adjustments to releases.

During the investigation, the roadway over Gavins Point Dam will remain open. However, the northern parking lot adjacent to the spillway will be closed to enable the staging of equipment associated with the test.

This assessment is being paid for through funds provided by the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act signed Dec. 23, 2011, by President Barack Obama.

In response to the Flood of 2011, the District Engineer for the Omaha District identified a need for a special execution cell or team to engage in time-sensitive rehabilitation of flood control structures – including dams and levees – in the Missouri River Basin. The Omaha District Systems Restoration Team was established to focus the vast skills and abilities of the district to execute an estimated $280 million in repairs on 18 levee repair projects and $234 million on some 100 projects at the mainstem dams and related flood control structures along the Missouri River.

For regular updates on the repair efforts to flood control structures in the , visit the Omaha District’s Flood 2011 Repairs web page at http://www.nwo.usace.army.mil/op-e/srt.html.