Today’s Omaha World-Herald contains further evidence confirming that officials knew about a future flooding problem by early April, before the Fort Calhoun plant was shut down. News stories since April had maintained that the shutdown was solely for “refueling” and unrelated to the flood, but then on Jun. 28, the NRC’s blog mentioned flooding as another reason for the shutdown. In today’s paper, in response to criticism of the Corps of Engineers for not releasing water from upstream Missouri dams earlier in the spring or winter, the Corps said, “the full flood-control capacity of the Missouri dams was available by late January — and that it was unclear until early April this would be a year of higher-than-normal reservoir releases. By early May, the corps accelerated its releases of floodwater and said 2011 had the potential to be the second-highest runoff season in 113 years of recordkeeping.”
So, it sounds like they discovered the problem later than they should have, if they had been estimating snowpack accurately. Then, once they realized the impending problem, they waited until after the plant shutdown to start increasing the flow of floodwaters downstream. As recently as a few days ago, however, the COE denied that flood risk to the nuclear plant had anything to do with its dam release calculations, which prompted criticism from Nebraska Sen. Nelson. Shortly thereafter, the NRC asked for the COE’s 2009 and 2010 analyses of what would be expected in the event of a catastrophic dam failure.
For once, it would be nice to hear a straightforward, honest version of these events as they happen, rather than having to reconstruct things later based on changes in the official story, and little details that come out after the fact.