Fort Calhoun remains closed after recent inspections

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July 25th, 2013

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Officials from NRC and OPPD agree that progress has been made on Ft. Calhoun, but there is still a ways to go before it reopens.(Photo provided by OPPD)

Omaha, NE — Omaha Public Power District and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission held a public meeting Wednesday night to talk about the progress that has been made in ongoing efforts to bring the Ft. Calhoun nuclear power plant back online.

The most recent inspection of the plant was June 10. NRC officials evaluated the readiness of plant hardware, plant staff and management programs. Based on that review, five items of concern were removed from the Fort Calhoun Station Restart Checklist.

“You know there are a number of areas we looked at and we found them adequate and we’re closing those,” said Michael Hay, NRC’s director of reactor projects.  “However, there are also a number of areas that more work is needed and we will be waiting for the Licensee to complete that work and then we will follow up with NRC inspections.”

Although, OPPD has made some progress in getting the plant up to acceptable standards, the July 16 written report states that over one-third of the issues that need to be addressed were not ready for the NRC inspection team to evaluate.

During Wednesday evenings public meeting, Lou Cortopassi, OPPD’s site vice president, said every inspection counts toward the restart of Ft. Calhoun.

“Tonight we did update you on the substantial recovery actions that have been completed which do tie toward our progress toward plant restart, a quick update on our post restart plan for sustained improvement as well as one key way we are validating our progress which is through independent assessments,” Cortopassi said.

The plant shut down its reactors in April 2011 for routine refueling operations.  The facility has since remained closed because of numerous safety concerns and procedural problems that have been identified by NRC inspectors. Also, during the summer of 2011, the Fort Calhoun facility was completely surrounded by flood waters from the Missouri River which raised additional issues and concerns.

OPPD officials remain determined to restart the forty-year-old facility and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission seems just as determined to make sure the facility is safe before they allow those aging reactors to come back online.

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