The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has launched a series of inspections at the Fort Calhoun nuclear plant to examine the facility's restart checklist and evaluate a recent cooling pump issue.
Lara Uselding, a spokeswoman for the NRC, said Monday that inspectors will evaluate a condition involving four main water pumps incorrectly anchored with shorter bolts than required. Uselding said 9-inch bolts have been replaced with 16-inch bolts.
The pumps provide the main cooling water from the Missouri River to the plant, and shorter bolts may have caused the pumps to be inoperable following extreme ground motion such as an earthquake, according to the NRC.
NRC inspectors are reviewing items from the restart checklist that include flooding, fire and the safety culture, she said. About 450 items need to be inspected prior to any restart authorization.
“As we continue our work to oversee OPPD's corrective actions to address the restart checklist, additional NRC inspectors are on site to ensure that the plant operator has taken the appropriate steps to replace the pump bolts,” Region IV Administrator Elmo E.Collins said in a statement.
The NRC inspectors are expected to wrap up their cooling system inspection by the start of next week and will write a publicly available inspection report on their findings within 45 days. The report will be available on the power plant's website, Uselding said.
The plant, operated by the Omaha Public Power District, is located about 20 miles north of Omaha and has been closed since April 2011. The plant was first closed for routine refueling but remained off-line due to the Missouri River flooding and other problems, including an electrical fire.
In January 2012, OPPD officials said they thought the plant would be producing power again by summer. A month later, the district brought in a team of 12 consultants from Exelon, a company that operates 17 other nuclear facilities.
In August, OPPD announced that Exelon consultants would stay and run the plant. For the first year of management work, OPPD will pay Exelon between $20 million and $26.5 million.
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