Thursday, June 9, 2011

Fire Breaks Out at Nebraska Nuke Plant Praised by Payette Engineer

Posted By on Thu, Jun 9, 2011 at 2:28 PM

On June 6, Kasey Ketterling, an engineer contracted by Payette County, revealed a due diligence review in advance of county commissioners deciding whether to allow a proposed nuclear facility to move forward. Ketterling, of Holladay Engineering in Payette, told commissioners that he had personally visited three nuclear facilities in rural settings. In each case, Ketterling sang the praises of the success of the facility and how each had integrated into their communities. One of the locations that Ketterling praised was the Fort Calhoun nuclear plant outside of Omaha, Neb.

"I met with a county commissioner (in Nebraska) and he told me that we would be crazy if we said no to this plant," said Ketterling.

But less than 24 hours after Ketterling's remarks, a fire in an electrial switch room at the Fort Calhoun nuclear facility knocked out cooling for a pool holding spent nuclear fuel. ProPublica reports today: "Fire safety is a continuing concern at the country's 104 commercial reactors, as is the volume of spent fuel piling up at plants."

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission reported that a fire Tuesday morning led to the loss of electrical power for the system that circulates cooling water through the spent fuel pool. Fort Calhoun's single reactor has been shut down since April for refueling. The plant had already been operating under a heightened level of alert because of nearby flooding on the Missouri River. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant
  • Fort Calhoun (Neb.) nuclear power plant.

Payette County Commissioners have promised to make a final decision by June 20 on whether to allow a rezone of a parcel of land, which could clear the way for Alternate Energy Holdings' proposal to build a nuclear reactor in the region.

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