Neb. utility offers update on troubled nuke plant

Associated Press Modified: September 10, 2012 at 2:00 pm •  Published: September 10, 2012

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska regulators aren't likely to allow the troubled Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant to restart anytime soon, despite a deal that brought in a private firm to run the facility.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Omaha Public Power District will hold a public meeting Tuesday evening to provide an update on the plant that sits about 20 miles north of Omaha. The meeting will run from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Dana College's Gardner-Hawks Center in Blair.

Fort Calhoun initially shut down for routine maintenance in 2011, but last summer's flooding along the Missouri River and several regulatory violations forced it to remain offline. Environmentalists would like it to stay shuttered for good.

The recent violations that have kept Fort Calhoun offline include a small electrical fire in June 2011, the failure of a key electrical part during a 2010 test and deficiencies in flood planning that were discovered a year before last summer's extended flooding along the Missouri River.

Utility officials and regulators have said the problems found in recent years never represented a threat to public safety. But the Sierra Club of Iowa has asked federal regulators to consider revoking the plant's license because of its history of safety violations.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission held a hearing on the Sierra Club's petition last month, but it has yet to rule on it.

One of the main topics at Tuesday's meeting will likely be the agreement OPPD signed last month with Exelon Corp. to run Fort Calhoun. The Chicago-based Exelon operates 17 reactors at 10 nuclear power plants in Illinois, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Exelon has been advising OPPD on Fort Calhoun's recovery since January. Now, the private company will provide day-to-day management of the plant.

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