Top officials with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission—with their eyes on the troubled Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant— have now made three stops in Omaha in the last eight months.
The latest, Thursday night, when officials with the Omaha Public Power District, the folks who run Fort Calhoun, were ridiculed by several members of the public. (Click here for exclusive video report).
Late last year there was speculation the start-up might come as early as April, but in an interview with Nebraska Watchdog the NRC pushed back at that suggestion.
Nebraska Watchdog: I didn’t get a sense, at this meeting, that April was a likely start-up date.
Troy Pruett, NRC: Yea, I didn’t have that sense as well.
According to Pruett, the Deputy Director for the Division of Reactor Projects, Fort Calhoun has “a number of significant performance issues.”
The crowd was less diplomatic.
“Your performance is abysmal,” said Brian Kean of Missouri Valley. Kean says OPPD put his family at risk when fire broke out at the flood plagued reactor last June. During the fire OPPD failed to notify state and local officials within the government’s hard and fast 15 minute deadline.
As an exclusive investigation by Nebraska Watchdog discovered OPPD took between 16 and 19 minutes to get the word out, slow to make sure that those with a need to know were aware the fire had cut power to the pumps which circulate water through the spent fuel cooling pool.
No one in the public was hurt, but the fire along with the missed deadline and damage from the Flood of 2011, finds Fort Calhoun on a seldom used NRC watch list; described by regulators as ”an infrequent—and important—step to maintaining safety.” Since 1994 only 12 other nuclear plants have suffered a similar embarrassment.
David Bannister, OPPD’s Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer, says the plant is safely shut down adding ,”We recognize our need to improve.”
But those words were little comfort to LaVerne Thraen of Omaha. Thraen looked across the room at Bannister and said, “You just scared the hell out of me…I didn’t realize that you were still learning how to operate a 30-year-old nuclear power plant.”
Reported by Joe Jordan, email@example.com
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