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NRC to inspect clogged pipe situation at Cooper Nuclear Station

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Federal regulators will inspect a Nebraska nuclear power plant which had trouble pumping water through a cooling system last month.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced it would conduct a special inspection at the Cooper Nuclear Station near Brownville. The 820-MW plant is owned and operated by the Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD).

Cooper was operating at full power on December 6 when it was unable to establish water flow through a large discharge pipe used to cool some of the plant’s safety equipment, an NRC release reads. The NPPD determined that a large buildup of silt from last year’s massive Missouri River flooding had blocked the outlet of the pipe, according to the report.

The utility removed the silt. A second service water system was operable throughout the situation, according to the report.

Nearly two weeks later, an NRC regional inspector visited the Cooper station as a prelude to the special inspection beginning January 13. Three NRC inspectors will spend about one week at the site to evaluate the event and NPPD’s corrective actions.

A report on the NRC’s findings will be released within 45 days after the visit.

Earlier in 2019, the Cooper Nuclear Station stayed in operation but reached potential shutdown scenarios as flooding rose to historic levels.

Cooper was completed and put into operation in 1974. It has a GE boiling water reactor and Westinghouse turbine generator.

The plant is licensed to operate through 2034. NPPD is the main operator but also has a support service agreement with Entergy Nuclear through 2029, according to reports.

Nuclear power generates close to 20 percent of the U.S. electricity mix.