Two Nuclear Power Plants Flooding in the Midwest.
Last night, there was a two foot surge in river level at the Brownville Nuclear power plant just south of Omaha Nebraska. The plant came within inches of having to be shut down http://www.kctv5.com/news/28294414/detail.html It has now declared an “Unusual event at nuclear power plant”. At this time, both the Fort Calhoun and Brownville plants have declared “unusual event at nuclear plant”. The Brownville plant is currently producing 30% of the power for the area because the Calhoun plant had been shut down for refueling, and the Fort Calhoun plant is completely surrounded by water. The two nuclear plants augment production from the coal plants that produce a majority of power for the region. http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2078685,00.
The coal plants. Here is a picture of one of the coal plants sitting next to the river. Locals here can look at this picture and tell you that this plant is surrounded by water for now. For some reason, there has been very little reported about the coal plants despite the fact that they are facing the same type of flooding.
http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=North_Omaha_Station (coal plant before the flooding) Two of the coal plants that produce fuel for the Omaha area sit right next to the river. The area surrounding these coal plants are completely flooded. Parks nearby are closed as well as nearby roads. Two weeks ago on a sunday drive to view the rising water we were told by an employee in the coal plant that people were being sent home due to flooding. What’s interesting is that if you google information about flooding and the coal plants, there are no stories. Zero to report. If you find one, share it please. Here is the oppd website refuting rumors and calming fears about the nuclear plant but no mention is made of the production levels for the coal plants. http://www.oppd.com/AboutUs/22_007105
Secrets. There are rumors and reports of media black outs. There is no official information to report except that the Oppd web page denies these rumors. Conspiracy theorists have been on this and have put together some interesting reports. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IavTbBZx5vA Local media is refuting these rumors. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyeGyrGYzNM In support of the idea that there is at least some secrecy going on, this is a report of a personal experience of my own. In a recent public gathering there was a woman present who had spent the day loading sandbags at one of our sewage plants. People were arguing about the fate of the city when she said “I work for this secret group. We aren’t allowed to talk about the work we are doing, but the sewage plants are getting water through the ground table. There are concerns about the infra structure. But there are plans in place. Everything will be fine. We aren’t allowed to talk about the work we are doing so I can’t say anymore”.
Worst case scenarios. We aren’t really talking publically about the worst case scenarios. They are telling people in low lying areas to be prepared for sudden water. But at the same time suggesting that there is nothing to fear. These reports are on the news every night. However, at least some engineers are concerned about the potential of dams or levees breaking. http://www.canetalk.com/2011/06/1307735956_1307735460.shtml. This is another story reporting the potential catastrophic effects of a dam break. http://rri.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/SaintLouisPostDispatch1.pdf.
There are even wilder stories about the media black out. http://nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/International/18-Jun-2011/US-orders-news-blackout-over-crippled-Nebraska-Nuclear-Plant-report While the validity of these reports are very questionable, sometimes the most compelling information comes from what is not being said or what is being said in absolute or black and white terms. “We don’t see any concerns around the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station,” Burke said at a briefing in Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle’s office. http://www.omaha.com/article/20110617/NEWS01/706179913 This report seems impossible. There are extremes at both ends of the reporting but common sense questions are not being asked or answered.
One of our terminals that disperses gasoline to outlets is also shut down. This gasoline dispersement center is located next to the airport and likely supplies gasoline to area gas stations and the planes at Eppley. The flooding is now complicationg our ability to get gasoline. There are other routes and it’s not an immediate emergency. But everything is more difficult. There is a dominos effect to this type of crises. One problem leads to the next. How can we say that everything is fine? How can we know for sure that we are safe?
As the flood waters, rise this means that 4 out of 5 of the power plants are fighting flood water. The extent of production is difficult to ascertain. Who is still producing fuel? And what happens if the Brownville station has to shut down? News reports from before the flood state that the coal plants each have a two month stockpile of coal. This flood is expected to last well into August. And one homeowner on the news last night reported that he was told that he won’t be able to get into his home until at least October or November. We have no real way to know how long this will last. Isn’t that the truth?
Add the weather. The Omaha area is expecting severe storms this afternoon and tonight. http://www.spc.noaa.gov/products/outlook/ Torrential rains occurred upstream and over night. We are expecting more. This only adds to the problem at hand. We have no way to know what the next few months will bring in regard to the weather. Certainly we could dry out. But it is just as possible that we would hit a rainy period and severe weather where rain bursts of several inches at a time can occur. How can anyone report at this point that everything is fine. Or that everything is safe? This seems as wild a claim as the ones suggesting imminent disaster. Right now, everything is fine, but perhaps we should be planning for the domino effect taking place.
What seems evident to me, is that our ability to generate electricity might be impacted severely if the waters continue to rise. Will we be able to produce fuel through the hot days of summer? As we become more surrounded by water, will we be able to evacuate in the case of tornados or other emergencies. We have a torcon rating of 7 out of 10 for today as reported by the weather channel. http://www.weather.com/weather/today/Omaha+NE+68127 Do we have specific plans for this type of crises given the flood waters and closed roads. What is happening to our sewage system? What will happen if the plants cannot continue to operate? Are the nuclear plants safe in the event of one of the dams bursting? And do we have contingency plans for evacuating people under these current conditions? Are we facing an energy production crises, when 4 out of 5 of our plants are compromised due to flooding? What would happen if the Brownville plant has to shut down?
If you wipe away the hysterical reporting and the conspiracy theories, it still seems there is plenty of valid reason for alarm. We should be planning, not waiting to react to some unforeseen problem. We know what the potential problems are, we need to be able to discuss them and plan together for solving them. This situation is a crises and federal funding has been requested. However, we are not discussing plans for worst case scenarios. It seems authoritarian to stop the discussion or to prevent planning on the fear that people will panic. Panic will occur if we don’t start talking about the real problems and their severity.