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Nebraska Nuclear Plant Flood Defenses Tested 168

Posted by Soulskill
from the good-walls-make-bad-mutant-wildlife dept.
mdsolar tips an article at the NY Times which begins: "Pictures of the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant north of Omaha, Neb., show it encircled by the swollen waters of the Missouri River, which reached a height of nearly 1,007 feet above sea level at the plant yesterday. The plant's defenses include new steel gates and other hard barriers protecting an auxiliary building with vital reactor controls, and a water-filled berm 8 feet tall that encircles other parts of the plant. Both systems are designed to hold back floodwaters reaching 1,014 feet above sea level. Additional concrete barriers and permanent berms, more sandbags and another power line into the plant have been added. The plant was shut down in April for refueling and will remain so until the flood threat is passed. 'Today the plant is well positioned to ride out the current extreme Missouri River flooding while keeping the public safe,' Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Victor Dricks said on an agency blog this week. But a year ago, those new defenses were not in place, and the plant's hard barriers could have failed against a 1,010-foot flood, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission contends in a yearlong inspection and enforcement action against the plant's operator, the Omaha Public Power District."
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Nebraska Nuclear Plant Flood Defenses Tested

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  • Re:1010-ft flood? (Score:4, Informative)

    by alostpacket (1972110) on Friday June 24, 2011 @04:33PM (#36559900) Homepage
    Yeah I wondered that myself. If I was really worried about 1010ft flood I think it better to build a boat and try and get 2 of every animal on board. And Anna Torv. That should be a good enough safeguard
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 24, 2011 @04:35PM (#36559914)

    Two weeks ago people on the Internets here (in other forums) were talking about how the plant had basically already melted down and that Obama had ordered a news blackout of the plant to conceal mass evacuations that apparently had already begun! All of this to protect his "green jobs" initiative.

    Well, guess what? I live in Omaha. There's no meltdown. No evacuation. No flooding at the site.

    OPPD's official rumor control page:

    http://www.oppd.com/AboutUs/22_007105 [oppd.com]

    OPPD flood blog:

    http://www.oppdstorminfo.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

    OPPD's Twitter page:

    http://twitter.com/#!/oppdcares [twitter.com]

  • Re:OK for now (Score:4, Informative)

    by Solandri (704621) on Friday June 24, 2011 @09:09PM (#36563256)

    I looked up how many nuclear sites there are (440 roughly) and how many major disasters have occurred (chernoble, TMI and now Fukishima). So a quick calculation says if I have a plant within a few miles of me, there is roughly a 1% chance in a typical lifetime that my home will be un-inhabitable for the next 100 years or so. I'm not a big pro or anti nuke guy. Actually I was sort of positive on them until I considered the probabilities. I mean, some people may be NIMBY about turbines, but man, I am definitely NIMBY for a nuke plant now.

    Well yeah, that's what happens when you consolidate production. Comparing accident rate per plant (implicitly equating one nuclear plant to one coal plant), is basically the same as saying hundreds of people die when a plane crashes while only a few people die when a car crashes, therefore cars are safer. You're ignoring the fact that planes move a lot more people in fewer trips / there are a lot fewer homes around the perimeter of nuclear plants than other types of power plants for an equivalent amount of power generated. If you correctly account for the amount of power generated:

    The U.S. has just 65 nuclear plants (104 reactors) with 101 GW nominal capacity. That's an average of 1550 MW per nuclear plant. Nuclear capacity factor is about 90%, for an average 1400 MW production per plant.

    The U.S. has 1493 coal plants with a nominal capacity of 335.8 GW. That's an average of 225 MW per coal plant. Coal has a capacity factor of 60%-70%, for an average 135-158 MW production per plant. A single nuclear plant is equivalent to 9-10 coal plants.

    If you assume 1 MW wind turbines @ 20% capacity factor, that's an average 0.2 MW production per turbine. A single nuclear plant is equivalent to 7000 1 MW wind turbines.

    If you assume 15% efficient PV panels (nominal 125 W/m^2) with 18% capacity factor (typical for desert southwest), you get 22.5 W/m^2 average production, or an average 22.5 MW production per square km. A single nuclear plant is equivalent to 62 square km of solar panels.

    So if you want to compare cost, risk, and environmental impact equally, you need to compare a single nuclear plant, to 9-10 coal plants, to 7000 1 MW wind turbines, to 62 sq. km of solar panels.

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