Power plant rumors dispelled

A lot of people are worried about what the flooding could do to some area nuclear plants, but emergency officials say there's nothing to worry about.

The Fort Calhoun nuclear plant just north of Omaha sits alone,  an island surrounded by nothing but barriers and water.  It's a similar situation at the Cooper Nuclear Station near Brownville, where officials declared a low-level emergency over the weekend when floodwaters rose and threatened a shutdown of the nuclear plant.

Cooper officials say there is no need to worry.  Vice President Brian O'Grady says, “We don't just work here, we live here.  I wouldn't be sending my kids to school if I didn't think this was safe, so I give you my personal assurance that this technology is safe and if we need to shut the plant down or do anything to protect it, we'll do it.”

Until lately, most of the talk has been about the Fort Calhoun plant.  Is there a no–fly zone over the plant because of radioactive concerns?  Did the plant shutdown because of flooding?

The answers are no.  Its reactor was shut down in April for refueling and maintenance and will now remain off until the flooding subsides.  The no–fly zone was put into place to keep the curious public out of the skies. 

NEAMA's assistant director, Al Berndt, has been through 35 emergency–type training exercises for both plants and says there is no need for concern.  “In my professional opinion, based upon supervised emergency response at the state level, I'm fully confident in OPPD's ability to supervise and manage the plant.”

Again, the Fort Calhoun plant has been offline for several months but still has full electrical power for safety systems.  The Cooper Station will be taken offline if the river crests above 902 feet.  As of Monday evening, it was at 899 feet.