Tough day at the office for Nebraska nuclear plant workers
Employees at the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station in Nebraska use walkways to get around floodwaters surrounding the plant.
June 28th, 2011
11:28 AM ET

Tough day at the office for Nebraska nuclear plant workers

Think you have a bad commute? It's nothing compared with the one that several hundred employees have at the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station near Omaha, Nebraska.

The toughest part of their trip to work begins immediately when they arrive. First there's the employee parking lot. Like much of the facility, it's flooded.

Fort Calhoun is one of two Nebraska nuclear power plants under threat from severe flooding. The plant has been kept offline since April and will likely remain inactive until floodwaters subside. But workers must show up to help cool spent-radioactive fuel at the facility.

Their work conditions are tough. Floodwaters are 2 feet higher than the ground floor of the plant. It's only through a system of berms, flood gates and towering sandbag walls that workers at Fort Calhoun have avoided being swamped. Read the latest news about flooding in Nebraska.

But the same barriers that keep the water out also keep everything else out, too. So how are the hundreds of employees getting to work every day? A long catwalk carries workers over the berms and floodwaters to the plant, according to Jeffrey Hanson, a spokesman for the Omaha Public Power District, which operates the plant.

Using the catwalk, workers leave dry land and walk over flooded outer buildings not deemed important enough to save from the rising water. The system of bridges is the only way to get out to the main plant. The plant's reactor and volatile spent-fuel will be kept away from the water, plant operators said, no matter how many sandbags have to be stacked.

See how some are comparing Nebraska's nuclear plant situation to that of the recent troubles at a Japanese power plant.

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Filed under: Nebraska
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. vaporland

    "The plant's reactor and volatile spent-fuel will be kept away from the water" – this is not true. the dry cask storage area is partially submerged. the lower intake vents of these casks are under water.

    the longest immersion test of dry casks ever conducted before this real-life experiment was 8 HOURS. now we will soon know what happens to dry cask storage devices filled with spent fuel that have been submerged and intake vents blocked with debris...

    they don't call them "dry cask" because they're supposed to get wet...

    June 29, 2011 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Justin

      The pad that the dry casks sit on is above the current river level. There are vents on the top and bottom. Even if the bottom vents were under water (which they aren't), the river would have to go up 15 more feet to cover the top vents. You do realize that before the spent fuel goes to dry storage it is immersed in water for years?

      June 30, 2011 at 1:12 am | Report abuse |
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