Once again, the corporate media is ignoring a potentially deadly nuclear situation, this time right here in the United States.
The Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant in Nebraska is now inundated with flood water from the Missouri River. A berm protecting the plant collapsed on Sunday. Prior to the failure of the berm, there was a fire at the facility. The official story was that the fire was contained in an electrical switchgear room.
The plant serves as the storage site for 20 years worth of spent fuel rods from plants in the state in addition to one third of the rods that were removed during a recent refueling. In 2006, the site began storing spent fuel rods above ground in mausoleum-like concrete structures outside the nuclear plant. Omaha Public Power says the spent fuels rods will be stored on-site forever.
In addition, in 2009, the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant was considered an alternative fuel rod storage site to Yucca Mountain in Nevada. In 2010, Congress failed to fund Yucca Mountain after more than $9 billion was squandered building concrete tunnels and chambers designed to keep waste safe for at least a million years.
Officials at the Nebraska plant insist the fuels rods are safe. “There is no water inside the plant. The reactor is covered with borated water. The spent fuel is covered with borated water, which we want it to be. That’s intentional. That’s where it should be. The floodwaters are outside Fort Calhoun, not inside,” Gary Gates, CEO of the Fort Calhoun plant, told CNN.
Gates did not address the very distinct possibility that the plant may soon be completely overwhelmed by water from the Missouri River. Due to an unprecedented amount of flood water, the failure of an upstream dam at Fort Peck Dam could lead to a domino-like collapse of five earthen downstream dams, swamp the nuclear power plant, and knock out the generators now used to cool the fuel rods.
“The Fort Peck Dam is built with a flawed design that has suffered a well-known fate for this type of dam — liquefaction — in which saturated soil loses its stability,” Bernard Shanks wrote on June 7. “Hydraulic-fill dams are prone to almost instant collapse from stress or earthquakes. California required all hydraulic-fill dams be torn out or rebuilt — and no other large dams have been built this way since.”
Can we trust nuclear power officials to tell us the truth? The Fukushima disaster was worsened considerably by the cover-ups and lies of government and industry officials. Should we expect the same here in the United States?
Garrison Dam releases into the Missouri River with a flow of 115,000 cubic feet per second on June 5, 2011.
June 14: Arnie Gundersen — Nebraska Nuclear Plant: Emergency Level 4 & getting worse.