Evolving Coverage of Missouri River Flooding, Fort Calhoun and Cooper Nuclear Power Plant Situations
EVOLVING COVERAGE... LAST UPDATED 6/24/11, 1600 PST:
Today there is a notable uptick in big media coverage of the Nebraska nuclear power plant flooding. Unfortunately key information being published does not fit with the known facts. Here is one prominent example of the misleading and contradictory information being broadcast widely today.
Today, 6/24/11, the New York Times reports that Fort Calhoun is "encircled by the swollen waters of the Missouri River, which reached a height of nearly 1,007 feet above sea level at the plant yesterday." Regarding the plant's defenses, the NYT article also states that Fort Calhoun has implemented "new steel gates and other hard barriers protecting an auxiliary building with vital reactor controls, and a water-filled berm 8 feet tall that encircles other parts of the plant. Both systems are designed to hold back floodwaters reaching 1,014 feet above sea level."
According to the New York Times the plant should be safe even if the Missouri River rises another seven feet. Unfortunately, this encouraging information is not true.The image below, as shown in Figure 1, taken on June 14, 2011 clearly shows, the floodwaters were already surrounding and partially submerging Fort Calhoun's water-filled berm on that date.
This is a hi resolution image so you can save it to your computer and zoom in to see the extent to which the water-filled berm is submerged. Clearly there was a foot or more of flood water being held back by the berm on June 14th. On that date, the BLAN1 gauge ~1.3 miles upstream was registering 31.50 feet, or 1008.94 feet above sea level. Today, 6/24, the BLAN1 gauge registers slightly more than a foot higher: 32.59 feet or 1010.03 feet above sea level.