OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The utility that owns the troubled Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant in eastern Nebraska says it hopes to have the plant ready to operate by summer, even as federal regulators reported Friday it still has hundreds of issues to correct before it can reopen.
Last month, Omaha Public Power District officials said they expected to have the plant ready by late May. But at a public hearing held Friday by the utility and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, federal regulators said the plant met only eight of 25 major performance issues.
All eight had to do with worker performance in areas such as safety and organization. That means concerns about the physical condition of the plant and its equipment — such as the replacement of faulty electrical wire insulation, overhauling of structural supports inside the building that houses the reactor and safeguards against flooding — had not been allayed during comprehensive federal inspections conducted in March.
Further, federal inspectors had planned to look at 169 of 450 items listed on an NRC checklist that must be resolved before the plant can restart.
"Forty percent of those 169 items were not ready for us to inspect, as they had told us they would be," said NRC spokesman Victor Dricks. "And of those we did look at, 70 percent required further action. The overall message is, they're making progress, but they still have a lot of work to do."
Nuclear Regulatory Commission official Tony Vegel, who oversees reactor safety in the region, praised the progress that has been made. But he told a panel of OPPD officials that federal regulators are still finding too many deficiencies.