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Flood Berm Collapses At Nebraska Nuclear Plant 417

Posted by timothy
from the sky-falling-river-rising dept.
mdsolar writes "A berm holding the flooded Missouri River back from a Nebraska nuclear power station collapsed early Sunday, but federal regulators said they were monitoring the situation and there was no danger. The Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station shut down in early April for refueling, and there is no water inside the plant, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said. Also, the river is not expected to rise higher than the level the plant was designed to handle. NRC spokesman Victor Dricks said the plant remains safe."
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Flood Berm Collapses At Nebraska Nuclear Plant

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  • by orphiuchus (1146483) on Sunday June 26, 2011 @05:05PM (#36578350)

    Its time to go back to burning dead dinosaurs, this nuclear stuff is clearly too dangerous!

    Just look at how many news stories there are about it.
    This must be what it was like to live in the 70s.

    • by Mysteray (713473)
      I remember the 70's as a little kid.

      There was this popular movie "The China Syndrome" with Jane Fonda about a news crew that just happened to be in the right place at the right time to film a nuclear plant accident from the control room. The company tried to cover it up and the good guys got all activist and stuff. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_China_Syndrome [wikipedia.org]

      There was this really weird coincidence where there was an accident at a real nuclear plant (Three Mile Island) at the same time the film was ru

    • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Sunday June 26, 2011 @08:52PM (#36579790) Journal

      Not really, because in the 70s we could afford our nice big gas hogs thanks to cheap gas. man I miss the car I had then, a 71 Le Mans SS with a 455 that topped out at 155MPH stock. the thing was a primer nightmare that made it so damned easy to take money from snooty college kids in their Vettes. Sadly once gas got over $1 a gallon it was costing me over $100 to make the 105 mile round trip to the capital so I had to give her up. I miss her...sniff!

      As for TFA I still don't get why we are still using the monster reactors anymore. Don't get me wrong, as someone who has a couple of them in his state I do enjoy the cheap power and the fact most apts here throw in electric for free,but with transmission losses it would seem the smarter move to switch to those small thorium reactors that can simply be buried in a shipping crate and provide power to a single town.

      You make a joke about burning dinosaurs and I'd counter the current reactor tech is 70s era dinosaur crap. We really need to be looking at small cheap and easy to set up reactors over these giant mega monsters. These mega monsters are about as inpracticable today as my 71 Pontiac. Did I mention I miss her? man the gas on those rides sucked but they just don't build them like that anymore, that and my 73 Gold Duster had to be two of the most easy to drive and comfortable rides i ever owned. Back then cars were actually FUN with a capital F, not like these plastic bubble jobs.

      • by Burning1 (204959)

        Sadly once gas got over $1 a gallon it was costing me over $100 to make the 105 mile round trip to the capital so I had to give her up. I miss her...sniff!

        So... Did the math here... Just over 1MPG? Must have been a real bitch to make that drive on a 20 gallon tank.

        (I'm guessing $100/week?)

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo@@@world3...net> on Monday June 27, 2011 @05:47AM (#36581692) Homepage

        Unfortunately developing new reactors is very expensive. Not only do you have to overcome quite a few outstanding problems with thorium reactors, you then have to prove they are safe and develop procedures to deal with accidents. Alternatively you just build a much cheaper reactor based on 70s technology and try to keep the regulator happy with some flood and tornado defences.

        All the money for development is being pumped into renewables, which makes sense when you think about it. Given the choice you can either continue with a system that consumes nuclear fuel, produces nuclear waste, has very costly safety requirements, is heavily regulated, needs a lot of cleanup at its end-of-life and has the potential to release radioactive material if it goes wrong leading to billions of dollars in liability... Or you can develop a clean renewables that in roughly the same timescale as developing thorium reactors. No fuel, no mess, very little danger, plenty of space to build them because site requirements are minimal, and as a bonus you can sell the technology to other countries without fear of legal issues when trying to supply them with nuclear material. The plants have a pretty much unlimited lifetime too and maintenance requirements are low.

        In other words by the time you have developed a thorium reactor renewables will have taken away much of the demand, and chances are suppliers will choose to keep using the older and cheaper technology unless forced to do otherwise, and governments are usually unwilling to push the cost of energy up like that.

        • by Stellian (673475)

          In other words by the time you have developed a thorium reactor renewables will have taken away much of the demand

          We know how to build advanced nuclear reactors today. If fully committed, they could come online in less than a decade, and be one order of magnitude cheaper than any renewables. What's preventing them is:
          a. NIMBY-type ecologists and fear-mongers
          b. Proliferation concerns
          c. Increasingly, green industry lobby, makeshift "job creation" and other assorted economic fallacies

          I don't dispute your conclusion that the free market will chose renewables over nuclear. But that's not because of engineering concerns or r

    • This must be what it was like to live in the 70s.

      Oh no. The plants were far better maintained in the 70s.

  • by KlomDark (6370) on Sunday June 26, 2011 @05:09PM (#36578376) Homepage Journal

    Still alive here in Omaha, right by the river. Water's not glowing, no evacuation orders.

    The plant has been turned off since April, there's not any danger of anything catastrophic. Spent fuel ponds are not flooding, although I have no idea if they've drained/moved them or not. As much as I love conspiracy theories, there's nothing here to be worried about.

  • Really? (Score:5, Funny)

    by nospam007 (722110) * on Sunday June 26, 2011 @05:10PM (#36578380)

    "...said they were monitoring the situation and there was no danger."

    Yep, we really heard that a lot lately.
    I personally find that in Japanese it sounded even better.

    • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mangu (126918) on Sunday June 26, 2011 @05:21PM (#36578470)

      "...said they were monitoring the situation and there was no danger."
      Yep, we really heard that a lot lately.
      I personally find that in Japanese it sounded even better.

      People who died as a result of the earthquake/tsunami: 20000
      People who died as a result of the nuclear power plant incidents: 0

      It seems that there really was no danger.

      • Stop helping (Score:2, Offtopic)

        by DragonHawk (21256)

        I recall reading of at least one plant worker that died due to radiation exposure.

        Misinformation does not help the cause of nuclear power.

        • Re:Stop helping (Score:4, Informative)

          by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Sunday June 26, 2011 @05:36PM (#36578588)

          I recall reading of at least one plant worker that died due to radiation exposure.

          You were mistaken. Or whoever wrote what you are referring to was mistaken. Noone has dies due to radiation exposure at Fukushima.

          Misinformation does not help the cause of nuclear power.

          I agree. Stop spreading misinformation.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          One worker was dosed with levels that will show up in around 30ish years. Middle-adged man, part way through his career, not going to be that much damage done. Not to mention, any workers dosed have signed up for this kind of thing, and no real outward displays of regret as it should be.

        • Re:Stop helping (Score:5, Informative)

          by mpyne (1222984) on Sunday June 26, 2011 @05:43PM (#36578638)

          I recall reading of at least one plant worker that died due to radiation exposure.

          Who was it? When did it happen?

          There have been fatalities at nuclear plants related to the reactor or radiation in general. For instance, Louis Slotin was heavily irradiated and died within a week after mishandling a plutonium core, and the (3) workers at the early military power production facility SL-1 were killed due to a criticality accident. There have not, on the other hand, been radiation-induced casualties from civilian plants that I'm aware of, with the exception of Chernobyl (a non-Western style design).

          If you're referring to Fukushima, there was a plant worker at Fukushima Dai-ni who died in a crane after the tsunami, but this was not radiation-related, as this was before the meltdowns occurred, and this was at Dai-ni, not the site with the meltdowns (Fukushima Dai-Ichi). At Fukushima Dai-Ichi itself there were workers who went missing after a hydrogen explosion who I'd never heard about afterwards -- it's possible that they were killed, although this also would not have been due to radiation (not that it matters to them...).

          There have been ~9 or so workers exceed the already-raised 250 mSv exposure limit but as far as I'm aware there have been no fatalities due to radiation exposure, so I'd be interested to know what I'm missing that you read about.

          • Re:Stop helping (Score:5, Informative)

            by Kyusaku Natsume (1098) on Sunday June 26, 2011 @07:55PM (#36579476)

            Two workers died after the tsunami flooded the turbine building of unit 4 at Fukushima Daiichi, their bodies were recovered two weeks after the tsunami. Those two are the only casualties related to the disaster in a meaningful way. Another worker from a partner company died from a hearth attack apparently, but he started to work in Fukushima Daiichi 3 or 4 days before his death. 6 workers in total have received radiation doses above the emergency limit of 250 mSv, two of them had around 600 mSv of exposure. A female worker had surpassed the fairly smaller limit for female workers by their child bearing condition, but since she is around 55 years old, she shouldn't face any trouble.

          • Re:Stop helping (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 27, 2011 @01:46AM (#36580924)

            Can we stop the incredibly selective reporting already? When discussing coal casualties we seem to include power station fatalities, mining fatalities, pet fatalities, people who ever lived within 50,000km of a piece of coal who subsequently died for any reason. When we look at nuclear fatalities it has to be caused by gamma radiation above 1,000,000,000TBq and only if the guy is called Ivan and was touching the PV within 1 minute of actually dying. Oh and he must have mutated terribly and grown 6 more legs or it wasn't really the radiation.

            Or to be brief, judge the safety of nuclear the same way as you judge the safety of coal. No selective reporting please, we call that "lying" where I come from.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Nobody who matters, anyway [reuters.com]

          A decade and a half before it blew apart in a hydrogen blast that punctuated the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl, the No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima nuclear power plant was the scene of an earlier safety crisis.
          Then, as now, a small army of transient workers was put to work to try to stem the damage at the oldest nuclear reactor run by Japan's largest utility.

          At the time, workers were racing to finish an unprecedented repair to address a dangerous defect: cracks in the drum

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          I recall reading of at least one plant worker that died due to radiation exposure.

          And I recall that a plant worker has died from a heart attack, 2 were treated for radiation exposure, and several others for physical injuries.

          No doubt that some of these workers now have an increased risk of cancer, but why make this sound worse than it really is?

      • by Jawnn (445279)
        Wrong. There are a great many deaths that may be attributed to the Fukushima mess. Your mistake is in not counting them because the have not happened yet. Every one of them was preventable.
        • Wrong (Score:3, Informative)

          by SuperKendall (25149)

          Wrong. There are a great many deaths that may be attributed to the Fukushima mess.

          Possibly in 20 years a HANDFUL of workers actually in the plant might get cancer. To claim anything more than that is fantasy - not science fiction to be sure, since there's no basis in science for your claims.

        • by DRJlaw (946416)

          Wrong. There are a great many deaths that may be attributed to the Fukushima mess. Your mistake is in not counting them because the have not happened yet. Every one of them was preventable.

          Now apply the same standard to coal, gas, and oil-fired power, not to mention solar (nasty chemicals in the fabrication process), wind (tower deaths), hydro (failure or entrapment)...

      • Re:Really? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by nospam007 (722110) * on Sunday June 26, 2011 @06:10PM (#36578802)

        "It seems that there really was no danger."

        I assume you don't have any real estate 15 miles around the reactors?

      • by adolf (21054)

        In your strange world of black and white, are all non-deadly things also non-harmful?

        "Danger" to me doesn't mean "has been shown to cause death," but rather "is likely to cause harm."

        What, exactly, does it mean to you?

      • You're correct, the death toll due to Fukushima is single digits.

        However, the main reason for that being so is because the authorities evacuated people far away from the plant; hundreds of square miles of land surrounding the plant is now considered uninhabitable for many years.

        Likewise with Chernobyl ... again, the mandatory evacuation is why the death toll there has been relatively low.

        In both incidents, if people had been allowed to stay, the death toll would be in the thousands, at minimum, and potentia

        • You're correct, the death toll due to Fukushima is single digits.

          Citation?

          In both incidents, if people had been allowed to stay, the death toll would be in the thousands, at minimum, and potentially tens to hundreds of thousands, including many outside of the area...

          Citation?

          Oh, and just out of curiosity, how does evacuating an area prevent deaths outside the area?

        • by mangu (126918)

          So, what you are saying is that nuclear power is harmless because deaths can be prevented? What's the problem then?

          How about a car analogy: the only reason why people don't die by the thousands every day is because they take the precaution to stop at red lights.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by js_sebastian (946118)

            So, what you are saying is that nuclear power is harmless because deaths can be prevented? What's the problem then?

            How about a car analogy: the only reason why people don't die by the thousands every day is because they take the precaution to stop at red lights.

            When you can get an insurer to cover the cost of abandoning an entire small region in case something goes wrong at your plant, I will buy your car analogy.

      • Re:Really? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Required Snark (1702878) on Monday June 27, 2011 @01:08AM (#36580818)
        Bullshit. There have been at least two suicides. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20110623f1.html [japantimes.co.jp]

        On June 11, a dairy farmer in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, chalked a note on the wall of his cattle shed. "If only there wasn't a nuclear power plant," the message read, in reference to the damaged Fukushima No. 1 plant just 45 km away, which had effectively ended his livelihood.

        The man already had culled his livestock after raw milk shipments from the area where he lived had been stopped. Now, he chose to end his own life, too. "I have lost the energy to carry on working," he added in what would be his final words.

        In March, a cabbage farmer in Sukagawa, Fukushima Prefecture, hanged himself after radioactive substances detected in the soil resulted in restrictions being placed on local produce

        The current number of displaced people is around 90000. Not all of these are because of radiation. There are many older people in shelters, and the living conditions are harsh. This is taking a physical and mental toll. Some vulnerable people have already died, and the suicide rate is up. Those evacuated because of radiation are among the most effected because of increased health worries and uncertainty about the future. I was unable to find any online figures, but it is clear the survivors have a lower life expectancy.

        The situation for people working at the plant is also uncertain. According to Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiation_effects_from_Fukushima_Daiichi_nuclear_disaster [wikipedia.org]

        TEPCO has been criticized in providing safety equipment for its workers. After NISA warned TEPCO that workers were sharing dosimeters, since most of the devices were lost in the disaster, the utility sent more to the plant. Japanese media has reported that that workers indicate that standard decontamination procedures are not being observed. Others reports suggest that contract workers are given more dangerous work than TEPCO employees. TEPCO is also seeking workers willing to risk high radiation levels for short periods of time in exchange for high pay. Confidential documents acquired by the Japanese Asahi newspaper suggest that TEPCO hid high levels of radioactive contamination from employees in the days following the accident. In particular, the Asahi reported that radiation levels of 300 mSv/h were detected at least twice on 13 March, but that "the workers who were trying to bring the situation under control at the plant were not informed of the levels."

        In the Japanese press these people are being referred to as "disposable employees".

        So I guess these people don't count. Not the ones who are already dead, or the ones who will be dying sooner or later. Or maybe you don't think these people are humans, and their lives don't count?

  • by EdZ (755139) on Sunday June 26, 2011 @05:11PM (#36578392)
    Failsafe fails safely, mass gibbering ensues.
    • Sorry, but you absolutly didn't get the concept of "failsafe"

      Something that requires continuous measures to avoid damage (like... cooling a spent fuel pool or keeping a car on track on the road) is by definition NOT failsafe, not matter how many layers of security you wrap around it.

      All those security stuff may make an accident almost impossible, but it's still not failsafe. It's more like what -273 degrees is compared to absolute zero. (ok... failsafe designs are feasible, but NOT by approximation and addi

      • by stjobe (78285)

        I'm sorry miss dyke, but it seems it's you who doesn't understand the term "fail-safe".

        A fail-safe is there to prevent excessive damage in case of failure. It does not mean it's safe from failing, it means that when it fails it does so in a safe, controlled way.

        fail-safe
        [feyl-seyf] adjective, noun, verb, -safed, -safing.
        –adjective
        1. Electronics . pertaining to or noting a mechanism built into a system, as in an early warning system or a nuclear reactor, for insuring safety should the system fa

        • I'm sorry miss dyke, but it seems it's you who doesn't understand the term "fail-safe".

          A fail-safe is there to prevent excessive damage in case of failure. It does not mean it's safe from failing, it means that when it fails it does so in a safe, controlled way.

          So that's exactly what a batch of spent nuclear fuel DOESN'T to in a failure situation when for some reason the pool runs dry.

          Ok, I read "failsafe" as "failure leads to no damage" instead of "failure leads to minimal damage", but besides that we're agreed on the meaning of failsafe. And still, the best road to a failsafe system is not additional security, but inherent safety [wikipedia.org]

  • "The berm's collapse didn't affect the reactor shutdown cooling or the spent fuel pool cooling, but the power supply was cut after water surrounded the main electrical transformers, the NRC said. Emergency generators powered the plant until an off-site power supply was connected Sunday afternoon, according to OPPD." http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hwsIdVXW-V7xE60P0dUnI_qSIaIw?docId=252989d1dda94c1d83ee47ba8907e484 [google.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 26, 2011 @05:18PM (#36578446)

    It seems everything mdsolar keeps writing about nuclear tech has a sensationalist fear-mongering spin to it.

  • What about the next time when a major natural disaster hits another one of these nuclear perils ?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by numb7rs (1689018)
      I agree that were a natural disaster to strike a nuclear plant (you seem to have misspelled this, by the way), there is a possibility of radiation leakage, and possibly even casualties.

      However, a coal fire power plant is continuously pumping soot, CO2, and a whole host of other unfriendly substances into the atmosphere. A report from last year estimated that coal power kills roughly 13,000 Americans each year.

      So, yes, nuclear power is not perfect, but the perceived risk is far greater than the actual ri
    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Sunday June 26, 2011 @06:22PM (#36578870)
      It takes an extremely powerful disaster to actually create a dangerous situation. The earthquake that struck Japan was near-record setting. A typical natural disaster would put a nuclear power plant into an emergency mode, but to cause explosions and radiation releases takes something very unusual.

      On the other hand, what other power source would you like to see deployed? Wind and hydroelectric need to be augmented with another source of energy. What would you like to use? Coal, with the slag piles that kill people who live near them? Natural gas, which leaves people living near the mines with flammable tapwater? There is not enough wood to burn, not when we are trying to sustain billions of people on the planet.

      What we need is more investment in new reactor designs, which have passive safety features (they do not require a power source to maintain coolant flow and prevent meltdowns). We should also look more closely at the thorium fuel cycle, since there is more thorium available than uranium. Nuclear power is not going away; we need it, and when we can't get any more oil out of the Earth we are going to need even more nuclear power. This is not the time to throw away plans to deploy nuclear plants; this is the time to develop safer nuclear power plants and start deploying them.

      Or we could continue to hope for cold fusion. I won't hold my breath on that one.
    • by hedwards (940851)

      And a coal mine that catches on fire can burn for decades as well. Unlike the sort of doomsday scenarios that people predict for nuclear, the coal fire has already happened. New Straitsville, Ohio [wikipedia.org] And that's not the only multi-decade coal mine fire either.

  • Do you know what kind of berm it was?

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