Nuclear Plant Hopes to Restart Soon

Nuclear Plant Hopes to Restart Soon

By Jake Wasikowski. CREATED Mar 26, 2013

The Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant, shut down for nearly two years, is moving towards a being back online.

The plant has been marred with problems since it shut down in April 2011.  After an internal breaker fire, the Missouri River flood, and a long list of violations handed down by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, they're getting close to being back online.  About $100 million was spent on the overall recovery of the plant in 2012.  In August OPPD they turned over control to Exelon, the nation’s largest operator of nuclear power plants.

"One the plant's in much better physical condition in some cases I would argue that it's ever been whether we're talking some of the legacy issues we're working on or just the material condition," said Lou Cortopassi, the Chief Nuclear Officer and Site Vice President.

KMTV Action 3 News toured the plant on Tuesday, and looked at some of the progress.

One major safety issue they're working on is fixing devices called penetrations, which keeps radiation from getting out of the containment building at the center of the plant in case of a serious accident.  They’ve also replaced 5 breaker cubicles that were damaged in the fire.  They controlled safety related equipment to shut down the facility.

OPPD says so far, about 128 items have been closed from the checklist of roughly 480 items identified by the NRC.  The utility says in November they identified about 20,000 tasks that needed to be done and they are close to finishing.  OPPD is confident the NRC will be impressed by their progress, and allow a restart soon.

"We're able to get the majority of those 20,000 tasks done and the process of getting it necked down to what's left on our plate.  That's why we have the confidence more now than we did," Cortopassi explained.

OPPD hopes to refuel the reactors by mid-April and heat them up by mid-May.  NRC inspectors will check to make sure everything's in place, and they want to be ready for restart by the end of May.