Fort Calhoun Restarts After 32-Month Shutdown
Dec. 18, 2013—Omaha Public Power District’s Fort Calhoun nuclear energy facility on Dec. 17 began procedures to restart the reactor and generate electricity for the first time in 32 months, having received the green light from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The 478-megawatt pressurized water reactor, located on the Missouri River 19 miles north of Omaha, has been shut down since an April 2011 refueling outage that was extended due to record flooding of the river and “longstanding technical issues that needed to be addressed,” OPPD said in a news release.
Since then a number of improvements have been made to plant equipment and processes, the news release said. These include better protection from flooding and tornado hazards, stronger steam and high-pressure pipes, enhanced radiation barriers inside the facility, and upgrades to operating and safety systems.
OPPD said workers spent more than 8 million person-hours completing more than 69,000 tasks. The NRC’s Dec. 17 restart letter said the agency had verified that OPPD had fulfilled the required actions through thousands of hours of NRC inspections.
“We now have a power plant with significant major upgrades to numerous vital systems,” OPPD President and CEO Gary Gates said. “This sets us up well to run through the current operating license, which runs through 2033.”
The changes to plant equipment and processes and procedures were overseen by Exelon Generation, which OPPD hired in 2012 to run the facility’s recovery program.
“Our people have learned new and better ways of doing things,” Gates added. “Their experience in operating the plant for approximately 38 years was key to making these improvements.”
The NRC said the plant will remain under its increased oversight “for an undetermined length of time,” and the agency will continue to hold periodic public meetings to inform the local community of Fort Calhoun’s performance.