Monday, July 04, 2011

Missouri Rages, Threatening Ft. Calhoun and Cooper Nuclear Facilities

Bombed levee, major flooding event above Cooper Nuclear Site (Video)

by Deborah Dupre
Human Rights Examiner

The bombed levee near Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station in Nebraska Friday caused a more than significant flood event downriver according to County Attorney Matt Wilbur, as it rose the swollen and raging Missouri River three to four inches when only "a half-inch rise is significant." Downriver 70 miles south of Omaha, Nebraska is Cooper Nuclear Facility, still online and posing a bigger threat than Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station, but no Fukushima according to CNN's interview with veteran nuclear expert, Arnie Gundersen.

Private citizens representing Vanman #30 levee detonated the privately owned levee, according to News 6 WOWT that reports that the bombing breached a half-mile stretch of the levee from river mile marker 637 to 637.5, around 10 a.m. Friday. As long as the bomber was properly licensed, it appears no laws were broken since the land is private.

Before Friday, as reported by the Examiner, "officials' efforts failed to prevent flooding the farmlands in the area. Then the levee there broke. Crops were flooded."

In the week that followed, there had been discussions with local government about lowering the new levee according to KETV News, but "no clear answers" had been forthcoming.

"These levees are saturated," said County Attorney Matt Wilbur on News 6 WOWT News, Friday evening. "We have the most water on them for the longest period of time we've ever had.

"This levee gets blown and we saw a several inch rise in the river shortly thereafter, so even a three or four inch pulse coming down the river when we're looking at every half inch as being significant, is a fairly big event."

Because of decay heat at Cooper Nuclear Plant, Gundersen told CNN Thursday that it poses a bigger threat than Fort Calhoun Nuclear. Both nuclear energy facilities are on the banks of the now swollen and raging Missouri River. (See video on page left)

Although believing Cooper Nuclear facility to be safe on Thursday, Gundersen also said on CNN that if a dam north of the facility broke, causing extra water to come downstream to Cooper, "all bets are off."

Gavin Dam - 'High risk operation'

North of Cooper Nuclear Plant is one of the nation's largest reservoir systems comprising six Army Corps of Engineer dams, each swollen and feeding into the now raging Missouri River. Eyes are on Gavin Point Dam in Yankton, South Dakota the last dam downstream. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission wants to know what locals downstream, especially near the two nuclear energy plants fear, "What if Gavin's Dam breaks?"

Gavin Point Dam has been "experiencing water levels three and one half feet higher than they should be."

"Since Gavin's Point is the last dam on the Missouri before the St. Louis area – it's a high risk operation," reported Operations Manager David Becker. (KCAUTV )

"It is really important right now because we are one of the major components, we are probably the major river, so our releases are important to try and minimize flood damage," said Becker, who then explained that the flooding will last longer than previously predicted.

According to Becker, the dam releases will alleviate flooding, the public needs to expect "high waters on the Missouri until at least this fall."

Because of issues with the dams, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission regional office issued an official request on Wednesday to the Corps for its 2009 and 2010 analyses of what would happen if a dam fails, as reported by Nancy Gardner for World-Herald. (Gardner's article had been reported by Omaha World-News and was online but now, "can not be found.")

Gardner reports that Anton Vegel, director of the division of reactor safety for Arlington, Tex. office of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission requested that Col. Robert J. Ruch, commander of the Omaha District of the corps supply the "what if a dam fails" information. Omaha district oversees the dams.

"The dams themselves have had some issues, according to the corps, but nothing that affects their integrity, said John Bertino, head of dam safety for the Omaha district. While the amount of water being released from them is a record, the amount of water being held behind the is not, he said."

As for the deliberately breached levee and the extra water pulse it sent downstream, it appears no law was broken since the levee is private according to County Attorney Matt Wilber reporting to News 6 WOWT.

"There are tens of thousands of citizens on both sides of the river who are affected by the flooding on the Missouri River and private activities such as this, which have the potential to affect those lives should not be undertaken without a full consideration of the consequences," Wilbur said.
Video: Arnie Gundersen Discusses Situation at flooded Ft. Calhoun and Cooper Nuclear Power Plants.

Gundersen Discusses the Situation at the flooded Ft. Calhoun and Cooper Nuclear Power Plants.

Video: Arnie Gundersen Discusses Situation at flooded Ft. Calhoun and Cooper Nuclear Power Plants.

By Deborah Dupre
Human Rights Examiner

Deborah Dupre' holds American and Australian science and education graduate degrees plus thirty years human rights, environmental and peace...

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