Monday, June 20, 2011

within 18 inches of shutdown, and only 8 more rainy weeks to go..,


Video - Brownsville NE levee is breaching at Brownsville Bridge (Cooper Nuclear plant is in Brownsville)

Joplin Globe | The bloated Missouri River rose to within 18 inches of forcing the shutdown of a nuclear power plant in southeast Nebraska but stopped and ebbed slightly Monday, after several levees in northern Missouri failed to hold back the surging waterway.

The river has to hit 902 feet above sea level at Brownville before officials will shut down the Cooper Nuclear Plant, which sits at 903 feet, Nebraska Public Power District spokesman Mark Becker said.

Flooding is a concern all along the river because of the massive amounts of water that the Army Corps of Engineers has released from six dams. Any significant rain could worsen the flooding especially if it falls in Nebraska, Iowa or Missouri, which are downstream of the dams.

The river is expected to rise as much as 5 to 7 feet above flood stage in much of Nebraska and Iowa and as much as 10 feet over flood stage in parts of Missouri. The corps predicts the river will remain that high until at least August.

Becker said the river rose to 900.56 feet at Brownville on Sunday, then dropped to 900.4 feet later in the day and remained at that level Monday morning. The National Weather Service said the Missouri River set a new record Sunday at Brownville when its depth was measured at 44.4 feet. That topped the record of 44.3 feet set during the 1993 flooding.

The Cooper Nuclear Plant is operating at full capacity Monday, Becker said.

The Columbus-based utility sent a "notification of unusual event" to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission when the river rose to 899 feet early Sunday morning. The declaration is the least serious of four emergency notifications established by the federal commission.

"We knew the river was going to rise for some time," Becker said Sunday. "It was just a matter of when."

The nuclear plant has been preparing for the flooding since May 30. More than 5,000 tons of sand has been brought in to construct barricades around it and access roads, according to NPPD.