Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant DEclares Emergency*

It's a small world. Here we are in the US thinking, well those kinds of things can happen in Japan and Chernobyl, but... Well we seem to have the potential for a similar kind of event happening right now in the middle of the U.S. The Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant just outside of Omaha Nebraska had a little electrical fire that shut off pumps to the cooling pool for the spent fuel rods of its reactor. You can read about it here. Of course it has hardly been reported at all by the mainstream media. CNN had a tiny little blurb on it saying it was "under alert", that there was a fire and it was out in 40 minutes (It did not report that the pumps weren't working to cool the reactors during that time and that the area was inaccessible for several hours because of the gases from the fire extinguishing chemicals.) Back up pumps were evidently useable. NRC says they had a pump going again within 90 minutes and that it would take more than 80 hours for a state similar to Fukushima to be reached (but one wonders where the line to actual danger is since as we know Fukushima is a major disaster).and the reactor itself was down for maintenance and had not been brought back up because of potential flooding, but there is some concern that if any of numerous dams give way on the Mississippi due to flooding, a wave could come and cause the same kinds of problems seen at Fukushima. ProPublica notes that fire safety is a longtime issue at these plants as is the continual piling up of spent fuel rods. CNN and the rest of the Major Media for some strange reason does not mention any of this.

I know, I know, what are we going to do, with global warming and all our NEEDS for electricity in the modern world, we HAVE to use nuclear power, right? The oft quoted government verbiage is that we have reached a global consensus. Hmm tell that to Germany, a country that has decided to phase out nuclear power altogether. I guess we know what part of the globe has reached consensus.

The government itself seems to be of two minds, while Obama speechifies on increasing clean energy, he is also promoting the use of natural gas and to some extent nuclear energy. Funny because page 69 of this government document indicates that offshore wind production could produce more than enough energy to power the entire U.S. grid (not just the paltry 20% being provided by our 104 licensed reactors.

The document states, "The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) first estimated the offshore wind resources of the United States in 2003. These data, which were reported in several technical papers (see, for example, Musial and Butterfield 2004, 2005), demonstrated that the U.S. offshore wind energy resources were very large, with an estimated potential gross resource nearly equal to the total generating capacity of the national grid. These data were conservative because they did not include key areas such as Hawaii, the southeastern coast, or the Gulf of Mexico. In addition, they contained generalized assumptions about wind energy exclusions areas that were not fully developed. "

And think what this could save us in terms of protecting our national interests in oil production in the middle east. There are SO many unpublicized costs to nuclear energy, such as transportation and manufacturing of machinery and materials for building and running plants production, uranium mining, storage and of course the price of accidents.)

Just saying, it's a small world, but it seems like the answers are there for us if we really look and without the need to split atoms.

Note: I have changed the title of this post because the Omaha Public Power District website maintains there was never a level 4 Emergency. They do note that there was an Alert that is the second level of problem status (after initially registering a NOUE (Notification of Unusual Event) - According to NRC reports, this was reported as an emergency to the NRC (Event Number: 46929) a fact they neglect to mention in their section quelling "rumors". )

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