Drought Triggers Dredging

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Monday, August 13, 2012 - 7:51am

Iowa nuclear plant works to keep river flowing so cooling system can operate.

A hot July forced plant workers at Iowa's Duane Arnold Energy Center to be extra vigilant at times.

"During the peak summer temperatures, we were watching both the flow and the temperature on the river just to make sure we were well within those safety parameters we have in place," said plant spokesperson Renee Nelson.

The state's only nuclear power plant relies on the Cedar River as part of the cooling process that keep the plant running.

Officials are routinely monitoring water temperature and flow to ensure safety.

With the potential for more dry and hot weather throughout the rest of the summer, plant workers will proactively begin to dredge a section of the already low Cedar River next week.

"The Cedar is incredibly sandy so it's not abnormal for us to bring in dredging equipment and clear out the river in front of our intake structure to make sure that we have continued flow," Nelson said.

In 2005, the plant installed wing dams to help clear sedimentation and ensure the river's flow.

Dredging will help supplement that effort and push sand away from the facility.

Plant workers say inadequate flow would lead to a temporary shutdown of the plant.

For now, they will continue to be watchful.

"The plant remains at 100 percent power in spite of these hot conditions that we've been experiencing and people can rest assured that our operators are continuing to monitor the environment and minimize any impact it has on our operations," Nelson said.

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