OPPD says Fort Calhoun could soon be ready to restart

The Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) has told federal regulators that the 500-MW Fort Calhoun nuclear unit in Nebraska, offline since early 2011, should be ready to restart soon.

OPPD submitted an “Integrated Report to Support Restart” of Fort Calhoun, a 130-plus page document, to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on Dec. 2. The report supports OPPD’s determination that it has taken the necessary steps to ensure that Fort Calhoun can be “safely and reliably returned to service.”

The plant has been offline since April 2001 when it shut down for a scheduled refueling outage. On May 23, 2011, in response to rising water levels along the Missouri River, OPPD began implementing flood protection measures at the site to protect various safety-related structures, including the containment building.

Then in June 2011 there was a feeder breaker fire that prompted OPPD to declare an alert. In September 2011 NRC issued a confirmatory action letter (CAL) for problems at Fort Calhoun.

In January 2012, OPPD and Exelon (NYSE:EXC), entered into an Advisory Services Agreement in which Exelon provided advisory and other support services to OPPD focused on FCS recovery and restart. That agreement remains in effect until FCS achieves 100% power.

In August 2012, OPPD and Exelon entered into a 20-year Operating Services Agreement, whereby Exelon is responsible for day-to-day operation of the plant while OPPD remains the owner and NRC licensee.

Only last month NRC brought a panel of experts to Omaha to discuss OPPD’s progress on the restart checklist for Fort Calhoun. The experts were able to provide in depth answers to questions posed by the public about a number of areas where OPPD has been making improvements at the plant.

At the Nov. 21 public meeting in Omaha, the NRC oversight panel reported that 90% of the 450 detailed list of action items (known as the basis document that feeds into the restart checklist0 have been reviewed and closed, said an NRC spokesperson.

Currently, of the 18 main restart checklist categories, 13 of the 18 are closed. The remaining areas have reviews in progress and currently appear near completion, the NRC spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said she did not have any timetable for the NRC decision on restart.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.