Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant: How Bad Can It Get?

Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant

Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant, NE

Radiation, at minimum in the form of tritium, and more likely other particles and radionuclides, are leaking into the Missouri River from the Fort Calhoun nuclear generation plant in Nebraska.

I do not have proof.  What I do have is the knowledge that every reactor is susceptible to small leaks at any time.  Typically they are undiscovered and thus unreported – they are a few drops here and a few drops there from an improper weld or a stressed fitting – maybe the last one of the day before pau-hana time.  And he intended to check it later, but never did.  New baby, vacation, other things to think about.  So thirty years later there are a couple gallons of it sitting under a pipe somewhere, not visible from the inspection point – and hey, this is all sealed up anyway….except for that pesky water leak the NRC is upset about…but a little water can’t hurt….

Until the plant gets submerged — or nearly so by a fast-running river which doesn’t cover the top (yet) but sure washes out all the leaky lines and the incomplete repair jobs which we didn’t care much about at the time because the river would never go that high.

So we are all standing on top of the buildings watching water pour in one side and out the other.  Sandbags are sandbags.  One million gallons of water a second washes sandbags away and all the cute little plastic pipes full of water – supported by sandbags and chain and not designed to hold 8 million pounds of water a second.  Tomorrow it might be 150 million gallons of water a minute.  If the dams hold.  But we all know they aren’t going to — they are are right at the top of the US DAM potential failure list.  The ‘domino’ dams.

Let’s skip that.  At least we know why there is a no-fly zone around the plant.  Workers are being brought in by helicopter and boat — to the roof and to SECOND STORY windows — maybe third story by tomorrow.

So….it’s a sand castle and the tide is coming in.  Once the water washes out the underpinnings, the whole thing may happily slosh downstream until it hits the next one…

Is that all?  Not hardly.  The Cooper nuclear plant can’t discharge sludge and it’s partially submerged just like Fort Calhoun. We don’t require any special knowledge to grasp what is going on.  The plants have windows and doors and control rooms and pumps and heat exchangers and expended fuel pools.  And they are all going underwater – but not like Fukushima where the water washed in and washed out.  This is just going to get worse through August.

But it isn’t all bad.  The Missouri river is cold enough to keep the pools and cores cool all by itself.  And it’s also powerful to pull the fuel out and irradiate half the country.

And about that time, the hemp ropes are gonna come out.

 

Dr. Tom is a retired scientist who is now farming on the Big Island of Hawaii.

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  • Eric

    As a resident of Omaha, I have been demanding from public leaders and the media that this situation be treated with the seriousness that it deserves. It is absolutely frightening living here and seeing the buildings surrounded by sandbags, some parts already submerged with water. This is no joke…this is a real and valid concern with potentially dire consequences for the whole country. I thank you for helping increase awareness, even if it is far from the source. I am telling everyone I can of the risk and trying to get answers. Pray that the dams hold.

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  • clarkbar

    Tom have you checked radnet lately? There’s a red line coming from the east, intersecting your station. Then there’s this:http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/asiapacific/news/article_1646404.php/Japan-pumps-water-into-reactor-to-contain-radioactivity.

    EDIT: The red line merely points to the correct location of my station after I put in the correct LAT/LONG.

    WE are responsible for finding the truth – I try to identify, a couple of people try to verify and we beat the TEPCO LIES, eventually.

    EVERYONE who is working at Fukushima is a dead man walking. And everytime they open another genie, a cloud of radiation goes all over the world. In the mean time, they toss water on R1 and 2 at night and let 3 and the #4 furl pool burn because they can’t deal with them. The fuel is out of control and the water is being pumped back into the sea. TEPCO is on track to lie and deny until they kill the entire nation.

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    • clarkbar

      Thanks Tom.

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    • SpiritWalker

      TEPCO is Japan’s “BP”

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  • Thomas

    Fort Calhoun plant may store spent fuel rods permanently

    http://www.enterprisepub.com/news/article_c622e2ac-55a5-5c14-b1b2-d8adfe92484a.html

    There are unconfirmed reports that the water-soaked ground underneath the nuclear power station is starting to subside, damaging the building and allowing leaks into the lower levels.

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    • Tom Burnett

      It’s interesting that the article states that Ft Calhoun has a 40 foot-deep pool next to the reactor for spent fuel rods, but the pool was so full in 2009 that they were sealing the fuel rods up in dry casks and sticking them in an on-site ‘mausoleum’.

      OK, no worries yet. The levees are full and overflowing and the rain is still coming and will continue through August. People are noticing sand bubbling up in their basements. Here’s some news, Ladies and Gentlemen. If sand and water is bubbling up in your basement, it’s not coming from the beach in Malibu. It’s coming from the levee right up the hill from you.

      I just got an email from Mr. A. Bozo who accused me of being paid for anti-nuke rhetoric. Dear Bubbles-in-the-bathtub: I am pro nuke. I am anti-lie. But, just to demonstrate what I have said since I first posted this, here is a map of flooding. The most serious, and continued flooding, and it’s getting worse, is right down the Missouri River and OVER Ft. Calhoun. I’m not hysterical. It is what it is.

      http://www.dnr.mo.gov/asp/wrc/river-observations/map-fcst.htm

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  • JByrd

    Remember, this flooding at Fort Calhoun is happening because the Army Corps of Engineers, which controls the five dam systems upstream, is out of options.
    There’s so much recent rainwater plus as much of 70 inches more in mountain snowpack in the upper Missouri watershed that the Army Corp had to flood this plant.
    All the flood gates are wide open, all the reservoirs are full, and there’s more rain and warmer temperatures moving in to the northern Rockies.
    It ain’t over yet by a long shot.

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    • Tom Burnett

      Sure…and so what are they going to say?

      (1) No worries, folks. We have been planning for this for days now and we have it all under control. We have 16 different electrical backup systems to keep the reactors cool. Go shopping.

      (2) OMFG! We are hanging on by our short hairs. The rubber condom we put around the plant is almost overflowing and the river is going to rise another 7 feet. None of our electrical backup systems work underwater and the ‘no-fly’ zone is so the helicopters can come pick up the last of us as the plant is washing away.

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  • Dominique Guillet

    Tom, Hemp ropes, exactly what I called for in my May article in French about the radioactive contamination of the planetary food chain.

    Open Season on Predators!

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