Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

We are all hibakusha (被爆者) now, American version

Posted by Charles II on June 27, 2011

“Hibakusha” means “explosion-affected people” and refers to the survivors of the atomic blasts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Recently, I used it to characterize the effects of the Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdowns, which I accurately predicted (not online) were much more serious than we were being led to believe.

Now the tragedy is coming home to America, where everything downstream of Omaha is at risk.

AThe Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station turned to diesel-powered generators Sunday after disconnecting from the main grid because of rising floodwaters.

That move came after water surrounded several buildings when a water-filled floodwall collapsed.

The plant, about 19 miles north of Omaha, remains safe, Omaha Public Power District officials said Sunday afternoon.

Sunday’s event offers even more evidence that the relentlessly rising Missouri River is testing the flood worthiness of an American nuclear power plant like never before. The now-idle plant has become an island. And unlike other plants in the past, Fort Calhoun faces months of flooding.

Floodwater surrounded the nuclear plant’s main electrical transformers after the Aqua Dam, a water-filled tubular levee, collapsed, and power was transferred to emergency diesel generators.

OPPD officials said the transfer was precautionary because of water leaking around the concrete berm surrounding the main transformers.

Plant operators later reconnected to off-site power once all safety checks had been completed.

Water now surrounds the auxiliary and containment buildings, which are designed to handle flooding up to 1,014 feet above sea level. The river is at 1,006.3 feet and isn’t forecast to exceed 1,008 feet.

The 2,000-foot berm collapsed about 1:25 a.m. Sunday due to “onsite activities,” OPPD officials said.

Seventy five miles downstream, the Cooper nuclear plant is also embattled.

And, according to David Hendee:

As bad as it’s been, the hardest parts [of the flood] are still ahead, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the river system’s managers.

“It’s going to be a devastating season in terms of how the levees do,” said Brig. Gen. John McMahon, commander of the corps’ Northwestern Division. “There’s going to be a lot of pain and suffering.”

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