Concern at Reactors as Floodwaters Rise Nebraska
The reactor, Cooper Station, is one of two nuclear plants on the
Cooper Station, which is owned by the Nebraska Public Power District, is still running. Managers brought in two tankerloads of extra diesel fuel and have stocked up on all the other consumable materials the plant uses, including hydrogen and carbon dioxide, in case of problems bringing in materials by truck.
At Cooper on Sunday, plant officials led Gregory B. Jaczko, the N.R.C. chairman, on a tour, past thousands of feet of new berms and buildings where every doorway was barricaded with four-foot-high water barriers that are intended to survive even if an earthquake hits during a flood. Mr. Jaczko also toured the building that holds the diesel generators, which would supply vital electricity if the water knocked out the power grid.
Getting into that space required some doing. First, Mr. Jaczko climbed over a makeshift metal staircase to get over the flood barrier at the entrance to the building. Then, past a security guard armed with a military-style rifle, he stepped through a doorway into a small hallway blocked with a four-foot-high flood barrier. Visitors climbed three steps up an A-frame ladder, and then took a long step onto a temporary wooden platform, stepped over the four-foot-high barrier onto another platform, and then down a ladder on the other side.
“And if the water gets in here, what would be the result?” Mr. Jaczko asked.
“We’ve got a sump pump over here,” said Dan Goodman, the assistant operations manager, leading him around to the other side of the giant diesel generator, which is the size of a tractor-trailer.
“One of the things we learned at the
Twice an hour, 48 times a day, a technician with a tape measure gauges the water level at the water intake building, and other operators check the level recorded by the Army Corps of Engineers four miles upstream, in Brownville. Plant workers walk the levees near the river and add sandbags where they find soft spots or leaks.
Flooding is always a potential risk for nuclear reactors, but the threat has a higher profile lately because of the tsunami that hit the
Nuclear reactors require electric power to pump cooling water even when they are shut down, and at Fukushima, the tsunami destroyed the connection to the electric grid, flooded the emergency diesel generators, washed away the extra tanks of diesel fuel and damaged the switches that would have controlled the flow of electricity from the emergency generators to pumps, valves and other vital equipment.
Donations can be sent to the
"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs