Local News in Nebraska Under Water
With family in Omaha, Nebraska, I'm worried there's a possible nuclear threat kept behind sandbags with flooding crawling toward a nuclear power plant.
I'll admit.. news of flooding in Omaha, Nebraska was merely trickling into my peripheral vision over the last two weeks. We have our own flash flood worries in Shorewood. But I have a lot of dear in-laws in Omaha, so after talking to them about the flooding, and starting to check out various news sources, I've become alarmed. And it's not about the water.
There are two nuclear power plants now surrounded by sand bags that are not showing up in local Omaha news.
The most haunting line I found comes from the updated Omaha Power, intended for employees, but not articulated as such in the warning: "For health and safety reasons, all individuals are cautioned to avoid contact with any flood water.”
It is my experience that flood water decides whom it will touch, and not the other way around.
Interestingly, as the International Atomic Energy Association meets in Vienna to discuss increased emergency communication and the need to increase safety standards for nuclear power, news of nuclear plant risks in Omaha is hard to find. There is a no fly zone over the Fort Calhoun plant, 20 miles outside Omaha.
Local news not reporting about nuclear power
Local stations and news media are reporting about the flooding. Tuesday's breaking story in the Omaha World Herald is a flood update but makes no mention of Fort Calhoun nor the fully active Cooper Power, the two nuclear plants in the Missouri River Basin.
Tuesday, ABC news NTV lays the issue to rest with this, adding that the Omaha Public Power District reports there have been "no releases of radioactive material since flooding of the Missouri River began." This was before the flooding last night, Monday.
Omaha Public Power District issued “Flood Rumor Control” talk points for its employees and the news media, which relegate most concerns to "precautions." A Thursday update includes this as a last line buried in the story, “For health and safety reasons, all individuals are cautioned to avoid contact with any flood water.”
National news on standby
Outside the area, the New York Times and National Public Radio are watching the story for more information, but include Nuclear Power as part of the flood story.
New York Times, Monday reports watching for closures of the nuclear plants.
Bulletin of Atomic Scientists: A nonprofit nonpartisan agency's story, titled "Rising Water, Falling Journalism."
NPR reports about possible closing of Cooper, but does not address Fort Calhoun (or its no-fly zone).
The Internet is awash with stories
My mother-in-law is one of the most informed media watchers (TV, newspapers) I know — and she considers me a concern because I never watch the news. The mad irony at this moment is that the Internet and Facebook are providing me here in Milwaukee more details about the nuclear aspect than she will apparently see on TV.
“If our reactors were faced with a similar challenge, the outcome would be similar,” said David Lochbaum, director of nuclear safety at the Union of Concerned Scientists, regarding nuclear plants in Nebraska compared to Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station.
Lochbaum will testify this week before a Senate committee on the nuclear plant safeguards.
For those of you not familiar, Omaha and Council Bluffs are part of the Missouri River Basin, and are divided by the Missouri River, which is flooding. Fort Calhoun, a nuclear plant, is between them, is surrounded by water, and has sandbags between it and the newformed moat.
There appears to be a much bigger story lurking. The nuclear plant at Fort Calhoun has been escalated to a Stage 4 high alert status.
Though this plant is closed, it is the repository for spent nuclear fuel for the state, and keeps the fuel, according to Arnie Gunderson on June 14 in RT America. This news source, RT America, is Russia Today’s English satellite, reports on the story.
Thom Hartmann's blog keeps a log of stories on the topic blogs to find information about the flood affecting Fort Calhoun. Another blogger submitted this compilation of personal opinion and news clips on Saturday.
Is it unnecessary hype, or is this about to become serious? The unveiling of information will be interesting to watch, as those of us with family in the area stay glued to all manner of screens.
As we watch the perilous dams along the Missouri River, the IAEA International Atomic Energy Agency will continue its Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety, in Vienna, which convened Monday. Amongst findings of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, which suffered from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan on March 11, “The Japanese accident demonstrates the value of hardened on-site Emergency Response Centres with adequate provisions for handling all necessary emergency roles, including communications.”