Nuclear Flood

Thursday, June 23, 2011 - 2:23pm

Could flooding around Omaha, Nebraska create a nuclear safety risk?

Ray and Sharon Perrigo want granddaughter Peyton Venneman to remember the facts of the flood of 2011. Ray says "there's just been so many rumors flying around about this flood thing about what's going to happen and its all "if" or this "could."

Some of those rumors swirl around the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant a few miles upstream. Sharon's brother works there. Sharon says "they shuttle them in and out because they can't drive in anymore. but I never heard that anything was wrong up there."

But an internet site claims there are serious problems, claiming flood waters are endangering the plant and a no fly zone was installed to cover up a radiation leak. The plant's chief nuclear officer says none of that is true.

Fort Calhoun's Chief Nuclear Officer Dave Bannister says "the plant is safe, will continue to be safe and we will do the things necessary to keep it in a safe condition."

Dave Bannister says hardened barriers and plates, sandbagging, and an aqua dam are protecting the plant. Bannister says he instilled the no fly zone when he saw four low flying planes over the plant.

Mr. Bannister says "I can ill afford at a time when I've got already a natural disaster going on to have an aircraft crash on site that could potentially affect one of my power sources."

A lack of on-site power was one problem confronting Japan's Fukushima plant that was damaged by a tsunami. OPPD president and CEO Gary Gates says lines powering the Fort Calhoun plant are secured.

OOPD President and CEO Gary Gates says "that single piece of the Fukushima event losing power really is what made the event to the level it is today, so I can assure all of you Fukushima level will not occur at the Fort Calhoun station."

The Perrigo's believe that's true. Ray says "when the place was constructed it was made for a five hundred year flood. what are they calling this one a hundred year flood, so I guess we're safe by four hundred years."

Dave Bannister says for the plant to get to a disaster level, floodwater would have to rise three and a half feet above where it stands now. The layers of levees protecting the plant would have to be breached and damage to the reactor would have to occur. He says all of this is highly unlikely.

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