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Fort Calhoun Station Event Timeline Articles


September 2014

FCS Leadership Seeks Training Accreditation Renewal
NRC to Meet with OPPD on September 25 in Omaha

March 2014

NRC Observed Substantial Improvement at FCS - 03/13/14

February 2014

FCS Performance-Improvement Highlighted at NRC Meeting - 02/27/14
Fort Calhoun Station Reenergizing - 02/27/14

November 2013

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Discusses Work at FCS - 11/21/13

September 2013

OPPD Share FCS Progress at NRC Meeting - 09/24/13

May 2013

OPPD Briefed on NRC Inspection - 05/17/13

March 2013

OPPD Shows Progress at Public Meeting - 03/27/13

February 2013

NRC Issues Revised Confirmatory Action Letter for FCS - 02/26/13

January 2013

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Receive Details on Fort Calhoun Station Recovery - 01/08/13

November 2012

OPPD Highlights Fort Calhoun Station Progress at Public Meeting - 11/15/12

September 2012

Nuclear Regulatory Commission held meeting with OPPD in Blair - 9/12/12

July 2012

Public Dialogue on Fort Calhoun Continues - 7/17/12

June 2012

OPPD Moving in Right Direction - 6/11/12

May 2012

NRC Open House / OPPD Open House - 5/31/12

April 2012

FCS Operations Training Accreditation Renewed - 4/18/12
NRC Public Meeting Held - 4/04/12

March 2012

Finding Was Expected; FCS Making Progress - 3/12/12
New Meteorological Equipment - 3/12/12
NRC Examining Potential Impact on Nuclear Plant Safety from Upstream Dam Failure - 3/6/12
Building New Equipment - 3/04/12

February 2012

NRC Holds Second Public Meeting with OPPD - 2/22/12
OPPD Bringing in Industry Experts to Assist with Recovery Effort - 2/22/12

January 2012

NRC, OPPD Discuss New Process - 1/19/12
Local Journalists Tour Fort Calhoun Station - 1/18/12

December 2011

Fort Calhoun Station Enters New Category - 12/13/11

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FCS Leadership Seeks Training Accreditation Renewal

Every four years, training programs at U.S. commercial nuclear power plants go through a renewal of accreditation with the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO), headquartered in Atlanta, Ga.

OPPD’s Fort Calhoun Station (FCS) emerged from its extended outage in late 2013, and continues to implement a number of new processes and procedures.

Due to the limited online data available during its spring 2014 review, the independent National Nuclear Accrediting Board (NNAB) requested another six months of evaluation before issuing its decision on whether to renew Fort Calhoun Station’s training accreditation.

While the FCS maintenance and technical training programs are still accredited, OPPD representatives are meeting with the NNAB on Sept. 18, 2014.

This training accreditation process is another example of how commercial nuclear power plants in the U.S. are held to a higher standard of excellence and oversight.

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NRC to Meet with OPPD on September 25 in Omaha

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will meet with OPPD on Sept. 25 to discuss the status of Fort Calhoun Station’s performance improvement activities, including the status of actions described in the Dec. 17, 2013, Confirmatory Action Letter.

The meeting takes place at 6 p.m. at the Omaha Marriott, 10220 Regency Circle. The NRC will videotape this meeting and make it available at Although operating, FCS remains under increased NRC oversight.

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March 13, 2014

NRC Observed Substantial Improvement at FCS

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) met with OPPD on Tuesday, May 13 in Omaha to discuss ongoing performance-improvement efforts at Fort Calhoun Station (FCS). Members of the NRC panel observed that there has been substantial improvement at FCS and recognized the hard work producing those results. Areas of particular interest included the Design and Licensing Basis Control and Use project, a multi-year endeavor underway at the site, as well as the integration-driven adoption of Exelon fleet procedures. Representatives of the agency noted that a strong questioning attitude would be instrumental to the success of FCS going forward..

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February 27, 2014

FCS Performance-Improvement Highlighted at NRC Meeting

The NRC held a public meeting with OPPD representatives on Feb. 27 in Blair, Neb., to discuss ongoing performance-improvement at FCS. The NRC panel asked many questions of the OPPD panel, discussing much of what has been accomplished to date at FCS, and the path ahead.

Earlier that same day, NRC Region IV Regional Administrator Marc Dapas made his second visit to the FCS site. Mr. Dapas met with FCS Site Vice President Lou Cortopassi and other members of the FCS senior leadership team, and toured parts of the plant to see some of the physical improvements first-hand.

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February 27, 2014

Fort Calhoun Station Reenergizing

It’s starting up. For the first time in about 32 months, Omaha Public Power District’s Fort Calhoun Station (FCS) is starting the process of creating electricity with nuclear energy. Safely reenergizing the station has been a long journey for OPPD and its customer-owners since the power plant shut down for normal refueling in early April 2011. Missouri River flooding prevented the station from restarting that summer and longstanding technical issues that needed to be addressed kept it offline until now.

Fort Calhoun workers took the plant to its normal operating temperature and pressure through non-nuclear means several days before restart permission was given. That allowed a thorough checking of the plant’s equipment and will facilitate a safe and efficient restart.

The restart will mean the return of 478 megawatts of carbon-free power to the electrical grid, allowing OPPD to save its customers money on buying power from other utilities.

Safety was and is the top priority as OPPD brings the plant online. The startup will be accomplished carefully and slowly, with operators gradually increasing power. A great deal of refurbishing and upgrading was done to bring the plant back, all under the watchful eye of the nation’s independent regulator, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).  Fort Calhoun Station will remain under special NRC oversight until it meets certain criteria as laid out by the panel that is overseeing the process.

OPPD enhanced numerous plant procedures and processes as it worked to correct performance issues identified by the NRC. Employees at the plant were required to put in long hours to make all the necessary changes.

"OPPD leadership and our board of directors appreciate the sacrifices made by our workers to bring this about," said OPPD President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Gates.

NRC Says Fort Calhoun Ready to Restart

In a news release issued December 17, 2013, the NRC indicated Fort Calhoun is ready to restart. It also discussed a post-restart Confirmatory Action Letter to confirm specific actions OPPD has agreed to take to ensure long-term performance improvement.

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Nuclear Regulatory Commission Discusses Work at FCS

November 21, 2013

On November 21, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission brought a panel of experts to Omaha to discuss OPPD’s progress on the restart checklist for FCS. The experts were able to provide in depth answers to questions posed by the public about a number of areas where OPPD has been making improvements at the plant.

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OPPD Shares FCS Progress at Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Meeting

September 24, 2013

On September 24, the NRC held a public meeting in Omaha to discuss progress made at Fort Calhoun Station. OPPD representatives highlighted improvements during the presentation and also discussed FCS preparations for plant heat-up, the next major milestone.

OPPD’s presentation also highlighted the status of integrating FCS into the Exelon Nuclear Management Model, which has proven successful fleet-wide.

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OPPD Briefed on NRC Inspection

May 17, 2013

On May 17, the NRC held a public meeting in Omaha to discuss the results of its Inspection Manual Chapter 0350 inspection that occurred earlier in the year.

OPPD discussed how it has responded to the information learned from the NRC as a result of that inspection and the progress it is making toward restarting the plant.

After the formal presentations, the NRC opened the meeting for public comments and questions. View the complete presentation.

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OPPD Shows Progress at Public Meeting

March 27, 2013

OPPD told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) about the progress it has made toward restarting Fort Calhoun Station during an NRC public meeting on March 27 in Omaha. OPPD discussed the various items it has completed in the restart checklist, its plans to continue its improved operating procedures and other information. After the formal presentations, the NRC opened the meeting for public comments and questions. View the complete presentation.

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NRC Issues Revised Confirmatory Action Letter for FCS

February 26, 2013

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued a revised Confirmatory Action Letter or CAL to OPPD on February 26, 2013, that adds three items to the Fort Calhoun Station (FCS) restart checklist the NRC had issued on June 11, 2012. Those items include some performance failures in the safety system, items involving qualifications for electrical penetrations in containment, and some internal structures inside containment. OPPD has agreed to meet these conditions prior to restart.

OPPD has been aware of all of the items in the new CAL and has been working on them for months. Significant progress has been made with NRC inspections well underway.  The NRC inspections and the extensive work will add value to help bring Fort Calhoun back to a high performing plant.

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Nuclear Regulatory Commission Receive Details on Fort Calhoun Station Recovery

January 8, 2013

The key message that OPPD has made significant progress at Fort Calhoun Station (FCS) was well-received by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) chairman and commissioners at the January 8th NRC meeting in Rockville, Md.

OPPD representatives told the commissioners that the work being done at FCS is designed to take the plant beyond safe restart and enable it to safely operate more effectively and efficiently well into the future.

The commissioners also thanked OPPD for its transparency throughout the NRC’s Inspection Manual Chapter 0350 process, and for OPPD’s willingness to bring in outside help to return FCS to operational excellence. View the complete presentation.

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OPPD Highlights Fort Calhoun Station Progress at Public Meeting

November 15, 2012

OPPD met with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) at a public meeting on November 15 at the former Dana College in Blair. OPPD presented the progress it had made on its commitments for restarting the plant, plans for sustained improvement, for independent assessments and other information. After the formal presentations, the NRC opened the meeting for public comments and questions. View the complete presentation.

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Nuclear Regulatory Commission held meeting with OPPD in Blair

September 12, 2012

The public had the opportunity on September 11 to review work underway at the Fort Calhoun Station (FCS) and efforts to prepare it for restart. OPPD and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) recounted the status of performance improvement items outlined in a Confirmatory Action Letter the NRC sent to OPPD on June 11. Major accomplishments included establishing a dedicated work management control center and the safe removal of fuel from the reactor. Other items discussed during the meeting included bringing in industry-leading Exelon Nuclear to operate FCS. View the complete presentation for a comprehensive overview. The next NRC public meeting will be November 15, 6-9 p.m., and will be held at Dana College Gardner-Hawks Center, 2848 College Drive, Blair, Nebraska.

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Public Dialogue on Fort Calhoun Continues

July 17, 2012

The public had the opportunity on July 17 to track progress OPPD is making toward bringing Fort Calhoun Station (FCS) on line. One major change that is Industrial Safety 2011-12 - jpgtaking place is in the “culture” at FCS. Plant Manager Mike Prospero highlighted FCS employees’ marked improvement in industrial safety and human performance, both sitewide and at the department level. He also cited several examples of physical work accomplished at the plant.

Mr. Prospero’s comments came during a public meeting held by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in downtown Omaha.

Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer Dave Bannister made the key point that Omaha Public Power District will not restart FCS until it is convinced that OPPD is ready to operate FCS at a high level of performance, and when the Nuclear Regulatory Commission concurs with that.

While OPPD’s formal presentation to the NRC was factual and straightforward, the passion and personal commitment about getting FCS back on track was evident from Mr. Bannister, Mr. Mike Prospero and FCS Recovery Manager Ron Short.

For his part of the OPPD presentation, Mr. Short provided a high-level overview of progress in each of the six areas that make up the IPIP.

The NRC discussed the Confirmatory Action Letter and Restart Checklist it has issued to OPPD and its efforts in conducting the numerous necessary inspections at FCS.

During the two hours allotted to public comments and questions posed to both organizations, the topics ranged from last year’s flooding to dry-cask storage of spent fuel at FCS.

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OPPD Moving in Right Direction; Receives Confirmatory Action Letter & Restart Check List for Fort Calhoun Station

The Omaha Public Power District continues to make good progress in implementing its comprehensive Integrated Performance Improvement Plan (IPIP) to restart Fort Calhoun Station since it rolled out the plan to the public in February at the NRC public meeting.

As part of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) process, the NRC issued a  Confirmatory Action Letter (CAL) with an attached Restart Checklist on June 11, 2012.  Those documents can be found here.

The NRC letter confirms that OPPD is working on the appropriate issues at the plant, and it formalizes the commitments that the company has made to address all of the issues that led to the NRC placing FCS into Chapter 0350, a special category calling for additional NRC oversight for plants in extended shutdown. Most of the work necessary to complete these commitments is underway or has already been completed.

While some things remain unknown, such as the scheduling of upcoming NRC inspections and any items that may arise during discovery, OPPD continues to thoroughly and aggressively work the plan and is committed to restarting the plant according to the current schedule.

Fort Calhoun Station has been safely shut down for a refueling outage since April 2011.

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NRC Open House May 31

May 31, 2012

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) hosted an informal open house on Thursday, May 31, at the Doubletree Hotel in downtown Omaha from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. This was the latest in the NRC’s public meetings on Fort Calhoun Station. The event enabled the public to talk one-on-one with NRC region representatives about Fort Calhoun Station and NRC policies.

OPPD Open House

May 31, 2012

Simultaneously, OPPD hosted a similar open house nearby. Members of the general public and reporters asked questions of OPPD about Fort Calhoun Station, and basic principles of nuclear power. OPPD representatives also were on hand to discuss the district’s advances in renewable energy, environmental stewardship and energy efficiency.

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FCS Operations Training Accreditation Renewed

April 18, 2012

On April 18, 2012, the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations’ (INPO) National Academy for Nuclear Training accreditation board renewed the accreditation of Fort Calhoun Station’s (FCS) operations training programs. As per its procedures, INPO convened a five-member board that included a representative from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, personnel from two other nuclear utilities and two non-nuclear training experts. This board conducted a thorough review to ensure FCS meets all of INPO’s criteria for this critically important training.

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NRC Public Meeting Held

April 4, 2012

OPPD met with the NRC on April 4 in Blair for another of a series of regular public meetings that are part of the special NRC oversight process. OPPD managers briefed the NRC on progress being made toward improving the plant’s performance. OPPD leaders also assured the NRC that the plant is prepared for any flooding that may arise during the 2012 flood season.

The NRC said it will release a checklist by the end of April on all the tasks OPPD will have to accomplish at Fort Calhoun Station before it is allowed to restart.

OPPD managers also communicated to the NRC about equipment on site that has been repaired or replaced, such as the station’s meteorological tower and the switchgear that was damaged in a fire last June. They also went into detail on the plant’s Integrated Performance Improvement Plan.

The meetings are between OPPD and the NRC and are open to the public, allowing a firsthand look at the information being exchanged between the two organizations.

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Finding Was Expected; FCS Making Progress

March 12, 2012

In an inspection report made public on its website on March 12, 2012, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission stated what OPPD had expected: Fort Calhoun Station would receive a preliminary red finding related to an event on June 7, 2011. On that date, an electrical fault resulted in a fire in one of the two switchgear rooms at the plant. The plant’s fire suppression equipment deployed quickly and extinguished the fire within an hour. The plant was in cold shutdown at the time. At no time was the public’s health and safety endangered.

The NRC performed a special inspection on the event and concluded the safety-related 480-volt electrical distribution system design requirements were not properly maintained through maintenance, modifications and design activities. These deficiencies resulted in the failure of the switchgear.

OPPD already has completed much of the work necessary to address the NRC’s concerns related to this event. See below.

Red denotes a finding of high safety significance in the NRC’s Reactor Oversight Process. This finding will be added to the recovery list that will be addressed in the FCS Integrated Performance Improvement Plan.

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New Meteorological Equipment

March 12, 2012

Another step toward recovery took place in the first full week of March when workers restored the site’s meteorological tower. While the tower structure survived the flooding, flood waters knocked out all the equipment and electrical components on the ground. While the tower was out, Fort Calhoun would have used data from the nearby Blair, NE, tower if necessary.

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NRC Examining Potential Impact on Nuclear Plant Safety from Upstream Dam Failure

March 6, 2012

On March 6, 2012, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced it has started a formal evaluation of potential safety implications for dam failures upstream of U.S. commercial nuclear power plants. The NRC recently completed an initial screening assessment and, while this screening did not identify any immediate safety concerns, has recommended further evaluation.

OPPD workers successfully protected Fort Calhoun Station from unprecedented floodwaters in the summer of 2011 and have been called on to share their expertise by others in the nuclear industry. Fort Calhoun Station was designed to withstand up to 1.2 million cubic feet of water per second flowing by the plant in the river. That scenario includes a dam breaking upstream. At the height of the flooding, the amount of water flowing by was about one-sixth that amount.

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Building New Equipment

March 4, 2012

On March 4, 2012, personnel at FCS successfully energized the equipment that replaces the damaged bus for testing. This is a major milestone in the recovery process as the bus is necessary to complete the refueling outage that was interrupted last May by the flooding. Testing on this equipment continues.

To address issues on connections inside the equipment, OPPD added silver plating to the connections to ensure low-resistance connections in the bus bar and on similar equipment.

In the design review and work-planning area, we are changing the way we operate. We also will be pressing vendors supplying products and services affecting safety-related equipment to ensure that similar occurrences are avoided in the future.

We are redesigning our electrical system to provide additional isolation of the equipment so that a problem in one system does not spread into the backup system.

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NRC Holds Second Public Meeting with OPPD

February 22, 2012

OPPD officials met with the NRC commissioners in a public meeting on Feb. 22, 2012, at NRC headquarters in Rockville, Md. The NRC streamed a webcast of the meeting through its website,

This was the second in a series of public meetings the NRC is holding as part of its Inspection Manual Chapter 0350 oversight process for OPPD’s Fort Calhoun Station.

Chapter 0350 is a special category of the NRC’s inspection manual for nuclear plants that are in extended shutdowns with performance issues. The process gives the NRC the flexibility to address multiple issues and provides more structure around plant-restart.

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OPPD Bringing in Industry Experts to Assist with Recovery Effort

February 22, 2012

OPPD is taking aggressive, in-depth measures to manage the current status of the plant by bringing in the assistance of other high-performing power plants and industry experts to serve as independent third-party resources.

For example, OPPD is contracting with Exelon Nuclear Partners to help lead the recovery efforts and to establish and sustain a top level of operating performance. A blended team of Exelon and OPPD employees is coordinating the recovery effort.

The largest operator of nuclear plants in the U.S., Exelon operates some of the top-performing plants in the country. This arrangement is not about Exelon taking over direct operation of the station or purchasing the station. It is about providing experienced assistance in the recovery of the station.

In addition, experts from the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) are helping Fort Calhoun Station identify actions needed to achieve sustainable, improved performance.

Established by the nuclear power industry in 1979, INPO is a nonprofit organization based in Atlanta, whose mission is to promote the highest levels of safety and reliability at nuclear power plants.

All of these efforts support OPPD’s mission to safely provide our customers with reliable electricity at a reasonable cost.

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NRC, OPPD Discuss New Process

January 19, 2012

Omaha Public Power District officials met with U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff in a public meeting January 19, 2012, in Omaha. NRC staff discussed specifics of the process, known as Inspection Manual Chapter 0350, which it will use to maintain oversight of Fort Calhoun Station.

OPPD emphasized that nuclear safety remains the plant’s top priority as it works to complete a lengthy list of tasks before it can restart the plant. It also told the independent nuclear regulator that is working to correct issues identified by the NRC.

The NRC notified OPPD it would be going into this category of regulation on December 13, 2011.

As part of the process, the NRC will hold regular meetings with OPPD that will be open to the public. The NRC also will be devoting a special area of its website to allow the public to follow the process.

View video of the NRC and OPPD presentations.

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Local Journalists Tour Fort Calhoun Station

January 18, 2012

Sixteen area journalists toured Fort Calhoun Station on January 18, 2012, to document progress made in cleaning up the damage from the flooding of summer 2011. President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Gates and Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer Dave Bannister discussed the current plant condition and what is being done to correct issues identified by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the independent regulator of the nuclear industry.

The tour walked media through areas that last summer were filled several feet deep with currents of the Missouri River flowing through the site. Fort Calhoun had been safely shut down for routine refueling and maintenance when record rains and deep snowpack in the Missouri River basin brought the flood waters on site in June. The plant remained in safe shutdown throughout the summer and remains shut down while a number of tasks are being completed to make certain it will be safe to restart it and begin generating electricity.

A number of tasks remain to be completed before OPPD is convinced it is safe to restart the plant and the NRC gives its permission to do so.

To view the entire press conference, click here.

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Fort Calhoun Station Enters New Category

December 13, 2011

Fort Calhoun Station remains safely shut down following last summer’s flooding. On December 13, 2011, OPPD learned that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has placed Fort Calhoun Station into a special category referred to as Manual Chapter 0350.

This category is designed for plants that are in extended shutdowns and provides the NRC with the flexibility to address multiple issues and more structure around plant restart.

The move will mean additional oversight for OPPD as it corrects issues at the plant previously identified and completes its extensive preparations for restarting the plant following last summer’s flooding. The flooding also prevented the NRC from conducting its normal baseline inspections, which must be completed. Current estimates put the plant restart at some time in the second quarter, subject to regulatory approval.

OPPD is committed to doing whatever necessary to see that Fort Calhoun Station returns to high-performing plant status with safety, as always, our first priority. We will continue to work with the NRC to achieve these goals.

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Integrated Report to Support Restart of Fort Calhoun Station

Calendar of Events

NRC Public Meeting – Sept. 25, 2014, 6-9 PM at Omaha Marriott, 10220 Regency Circle, Omaha NE
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