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Utility says Nebraska nuclear plant operating at full power again after brief shutdown

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OMAHA, Nebraska — A Nebraska nuclear plant is operating at full power again after its second brief outage in the past three months, utility officials said Wednesday.

The Omaha Public Power District said Fort Calhoun resumed generating electricity on March 19 — two days after a problem on the non-nuclear side of the plant during maintenance triggered the shutdown.

The nuclear plant that sits along the Missouri River across from Iowa about 20 miles north of Omaha reached full power again on March 21.

This is the second time Fort Calhoun went offline briefly since it restarted in December after a prolonged outage.

In January, Fort Calhoun had to stop generating power for four days because ice built up on one of six gates the plant uses to control water from the Missouri River and kept it from closing.

Before that, Fort Calhoun had been shut down for nearly three years. It initially shut down in April 2011 for routine maintenance, but significant flooding in 2011, a small fire and a series of safety violations forced it to remain closed until December.

OPPD spokesman Jeff Hanson said the latest shutdown happened when workers were performing maintenance on the generator on March 17.

The generator lost coolant during the work. Hanson said that triggered the automatic shutdown of the turbine and then the reactor because there was no need to produce steam when the generator wasn't operational.

OPPD and the company it hired to run Fort Calhoun, Exelon Corp., are still investigating what caused last month's 50-hour shutdown.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has inspectors on site at Fort Calhoun and all the nation's nuclear plants monitoring operations. Agency spokeswoman Lara Uselding said the inspectors observed the shutdown and noted that Fort Calhoun's operators responded appropriately.

The NRC will review the utility's investigation into what caused the problem once it is complete to determine if any additional action is required.

OPPD serves more than 352,000 customers in 13 counties of southeast Nebraska.

Fort Calhoun can supply nearly one-third of the utility's electricity. While the plant was closed, OPPD spend more than $180 million to address more than 450 concerns at the plant.


Online:

NRC page on Fort Calhoun: http://1.usa.gov/GBq2TF

Omaha Public Power District: http://www.oppd.com

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