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Ice buildup at Fort Calhoun forces n-plant to shut down


From the January 13, 2014 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published January 13, 2014

By Jeannine Anderson
Editor

Ice at the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant in Nebraska forced the Omaha Public Power District to shut down the plant temporarily, OPPD said Jan. 9.

Sub-freezing temperatures last week caused an ice buildup on one of six sluice gates in the plant's Missouri River water-intake structure. The ice buildup was enough to keep the gate from fully closing, OPPD said. All of the gates must be able to close in case of flooding, so the plant had to shut down, even though no flooding was predicted. At no time was the public in danger, the utility said.
      
Workers checking the plant first noticed the ice buildup the night of Jan. 8. Operators analyzed the situation and, at 3:15 a.m. on Jan. 9, notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about the non-emergency condition that would require the plant to shut down. "That is the kind of conservative step required in nuclear power operations," OPPD said.

The plant went off line at 9 a.m. The shutdown took place with no complications, OPPD said.

Workers cleared the ice and were taking steps late last week to lower the affected sluice gate. Once the gate is closed, the intake structure can operate safely and effectively with only five sluice gates open, the utility said. The river water that comes through the intake structure is used to cool and condense steam that has gone through the power turbine. The river water never comes near water that flows through the reactor, OPPD noted.

Once the intake structure is operable, workers plan to return the plant to service. Some repairs will be made to the sluice gate before it can operate, OPPD said. "As always, safety will be the top concern during repairs and in bringing the plant back online," the utility said.

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