Fort Calhoun returning after being temporarily offline

The Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) Fort Calhoun nuclear plant is returning to service Jan. 13 after being briefly offline due to a weather-related problem in Nebraska.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) listed Fort Calhoun at 6% generating output early Monday, Jan. 13. The nuclear unit, which had only recently been returned to service following a long-running outage, went offline Jan. 9 due to sub-freezing temperatures, according to OPPD.

The severe winter cold had caused an ice build-up on one of six sluice gates in the plant’s Missouri River water-intake structure, OPPD said in a Jan. 9 statement. The ice build-up was enough to keep the gate from fully closing. All of the gates must be able to close in case of flooding, so this meant the plant had to shut down, even though no flooding is predicted. At no time was the public in any danger, OPPD said.

Thanks to the warming weather, Blair. Neb., where the plant is located is expected to see a high temperature of 44 degrees F on Monday, Jan. 13.

Fort Calhoun, a 478-MW pressurized water reactor (PWR), had returned to operation in late December after being offline since 2011. After shutting down for a regularly-scheduled refueling outage in April 2011, the outage became long-term a few weeks later following flooding along the Missouri River.

Other problems turned up at Fort Calhoun in 2011 and 2012. In early 2012, OPPD hired Exelon (NYSE:EXC), the nation’s largest nuclear operator, to help it with the plant.

The NRC only cleared the plant for restart about a month ago.

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.