Ft. Calhoun NRC Meeting 1.8.2012 Report

The NRC meeting on Ft. Calhoun today did uncover a few pieces of information but largely seemed more like a therapy session than a regulatory meeting. OPPD began with a rather long presentation full of corporate speak that focused on human interaction and how people “feel”. OPPD focused on human resources issues and almost completely ignored the actual technical challenges at the plant. OPPD and Exelon also hyper focused on the minute actions of low level workers.

The big problems at the plant involve very large long term failures to repair known problems at the plant. These issues were not the cause of low level workers, they involved high level management decisions to not spend money on needed repairs over decades and repeated NRC warnings. OPPD proudly announced actions like making a worker re-enact bumping his head on a cabinet for management to see how he got a bruise and interrogating a welder for using his own eye protection.

If working in a deficient plant where management refused to repair things wasn’t stressful enough, now the hands on workers are being micro-managed. OPPD and Exelon seem intent on scapegoating the lower level staff rather than addressing their decades of management failure.

Some admissions did come out of the meeting. The containment structural issues had reduced the margins of safety and were non-conforming. The internal containment structure that has been the focus of additional oversight is not built to design requirements and is insufficient to support the loads from the safety injection tanks. Exelon claimed they would not try to restart the reactor until all structural issues inside containment were resolved. The previous phone meeting with NRC just that was attempted as the engineering firm tried to suggest the plant should restart as-is with structurally insufficient beams and columns. They suggested that repair work should be done later after they restarted.

Containment seals were found to be insufficient. Many had a teflon component that is known to be a failed material. Ft. Calhoun stated they had safety related penetration seals replaced and was working on “non safety” related seals.

The flooding and soil instability issues are still under review. These appear to be a far larger problem than OPPD or the NRC mentioned at the meeting since there are widespread erosion problems under critical safety structures on site.

There were also statements that repair work is being done to the fuel handling equipment though they do not mention what kinds of repair. The auxiliary feedwater system will be inspected in the coming months and there is still an attempt to do “heat up activities” this spring.

OPPD also made a rather bizarre claim during the meeting that they are ready to deal with “multiple dam failures” up to 1029 feet. The flood in 2011 was only 1007 feet and the plant sustained significant damage as their flood prevention tactics began to fail. OPPD’s claim of flood protection to 1029 is pure fantasy. Ft. Calhoun has also not been analyzed for multiple dam failure as the NRC had deemed it too unlikely to consider and inspector concerns about the issue were ignored.

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