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The article is sensational, yes, and for the moment we discount it.  

But take a look at the embeded video:  

Basics are, first, an electrical fire of unknown cause, successfully extinguished, that temporarily knocked out cooling to the spent-fuel pool, now restored.  They dodged a bullet, and have unknown damage to repair, but yes, cooling is working, according to the NRC reports.  

Second, the plant has about one foot of margin left.  A rise of one third meter or more puts the plant at risk of flooding and failing utterly (including melting down).  The flood right now is stable, but this could change if there is more bad weather, or if any of the upstream dams--already saturated--fail.  This danger will persist for months.  

This last would explain a news blackout, and the no fly zone.  It is also true they don't want anything knocking down power into the plant.  That too is "Game Over, Man.  Game Over!"  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Sat Jun 18th, 2011 at 02:25:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now you assume that the American government is able and willing to organise a "news blackout."

Historical experience indicates otherwise. It tends to be possible to find the story in the Unserious but reality-based part of the press (hell, usually even by simply going to the US government's primary sources instead of the spin doctors), without going into tinfoil hat territory.

And the US government seems to like it that way. "See, we have a free press - look at Amy Wallace and Matt Taibbi. It's just Too Bad that their readership is counted in five figures on a good day."

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Jun 18th, 2011 at 05:35:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]


The Fates are kind.
by Gaianne on Sat Jun 18th, 2011 at 10:26:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The US government doesn't have to arrange it.

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jun 19th, 2011 at 03:22:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Second, the plant has about one foot of margin left.

Source? The link provided by asdf downthread indicates a margin more like six feet, and preparedness for two feet more:

...missing from these reports (and from the original release) was the elevation of the plant itself, which turns out to be -- surprise! -- 1,004 feet. According to NRC Senior Public Affairs Officer Victor Dricks, the river yesterday was at 1,005.7 feet and is expected to crest at 1,006.4 feet. By then, the plant will be standing in more than two feet of water; luckily, the eight-foot-tall Aqua Dams should keep the water at bay. And the river is still well below the worst-imaginable scenario that OPPD is required to prepare for: a flood reaching 1,014 feet above sea level.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jun 19th, 2011 at 08:55:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
as of Sunday 26 June, the berm is breached.  Lost power when the substation flooded, since restored.  No problem!  

We are looking forward to three more months of this!  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Mon Jun 27th, 2011 at 01:36:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They are running on back-up diesel generators.  

It will probably be impossible to restore power until the water recedes.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Mon Jun 27th, 2011 at 10:24:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Your link:

Emergency generators powered the plant until an off-site power supply was connected Sunday afternoon, according to OPPD.

Details do count, even if I agree that the story is about underestimated risks. The latest is that the AquaDam berth was damaged not by the flood but human interference:

Added flood protection at Nebraska nuclear plant fails | Iowa Independent

Workers with Omaha Public Power District, owners and operators of Calhoun, had placed a massive AquaDam around the structure and its other flood protection systems. The AquaDam, a tube structure filled with water that was eight-feet tall and 16-feet wide, was punctured early Sunday morning during onsite work.

"Some mechanical equipment tore the side of the dam," Victor Dricks, Region 4 spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, told The Iowa Independent Monday by phone. "As a result, the plant switched to emergency power for a period of a about 12 hours."

NRC inspectors were onsite when the incident occurred, and flood waters rushed auxiliary and other buildings at the site. The power supply was cut because water infiltrated the plant's main electrical transformers. Power has since been switched away from emergency generators and to an off-site power supply.

Keeping power at the plant is critical since the reactor core has been refueled and spent fuel remains in a cooling pool. Dricks said the failure of the dam did not adversely impact either the core or the cooling pool. Dry cask storage of spent fuel has long been exposed to the flood waters and, as Dricks told The Iowa Independent last week, poses no risk.

Other, more solid berms were located inside the area also being protected by the AquaDam. Those protections are holding with minor seepage and, of course, additional rainfall being pumped away from the structure and back into the river.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jun 28th, 2011 at 01:27:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Meanwhile, the maximum expected flood level was apparently raised, but the article is inconsistent on whether that's 1,008 or 1,011 feet. They also write about emergency measures useful until 1,036 feet, and also say:

Added flood protection at Nebraska nuclear plant fails | Iowa Independent

Much of the good fortune at the plant during this crisis has been the result of earlier inspections by regulatory officials that revealed several imperfections in relation to flood preparedness at the plant. Because of the inspections and subsequent work by OPPD officials, many of problems that could have spelled catastrophe during this flood have been mitigated. OPPD workers first began flood prevention activities during the weekend of May 21.

One year off and there would have been a second Fukushima.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jun 28th, 2011 at 01:37:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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