Skip to main content

According to Dr. Bernard Shanks (bio: the six dams upstream from the Ft. Calhoun and Cooper nuclear plants are in some danger of collapse. They are all between 50 and 70 years old, all in various states of disrepair and neglect, all filled to the brim, and they are all made of earth.

Here in an audio interview with KMOX St. Louis, Dr. Shanks envisions a failure of the Peck dam (the first and highest of the six, and one of the least stable) producing an inevitable domino effect further downstream. The consequences of such an event would be so horrific as to defy description.

The point of this diary is to emphasize the fact that this scenario is anything BUT beyond the realm of possibility. Maybe not yet in the realm of probability, but too close to it to be simply ignored. There is still a LOT of snow up in the mountains feeding this water system.

Mainstream news won't touch this story, but in light of recent events at Fukushima I find it to be pertinent and timely. Of course it's too late to do anything about it now, other than pray, but it speaks volumes about infrastructure neglect, nuclear "safety", climate change, foresight, and hindsight.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  This Has Me Nervous (3+ / 0-)

    Over here in Des Moines, obviously more about the nuclear plants than flooding as we're too far to see repurcussions of that. What I would like to know more about is how the flooding would affect the plants, and whether they're ready for this?

    "I'll tell you, if there's anything worse than dealing with a staunch woman. S.T.A.U.N.C.H. There's nothing worse, I'm telling 'ya!". Little Edie

    by vintage dem on Thu Jun 23, 2011 at 12:33:51 PM PDT

    •  I think a deluge like (4+ / 0-)

      Shanks is talking about would literally submerge both plants, top to bottom. It would also flood Omaha, Kansas city, and St. Louis, and then all the way to New Orleans. There's no way to prepare for something like that.

      "Here's another nice mess you've gotten me into." - Oliver Hardy

      by native on Thu Jun 23, 2011 at 12:51:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Then again, (5+ / 0-)

        assuming we dodge the bullet this year, we COULD start fixing those dams ASAP in preparation for whatever Ma Nature might have in store.

        "Here's another nice mess you've gotten me into." - Oliver Hardy

        by native on Thu Jun 23, 2011 at 12:56:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And even with global climate disruption (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          this might not happen again for a few years. As we leave the recent La Nina conditions, things should dry out a bit.

          We have to get past this summer first.

          But the summer climate forecasts for the Missouri River and Souris River valleys are showing ABOVE normal expectations for rain for the summer. (Go here for the three month projections going forward for temp and precip in map form.)

          In fact, right now they are looking to be wetter well into fall.

          AND the melting of the gigantic northwest snowpack has been delayed by cool weather so far up there. The relatively cooler weather is forecast to remain through the summer. At the higher altitudes in the mountains the thick snowpack will just hang there waiting for a heat wave to break up.  Watch out for that late summer northwest heat wave that melts the snowpack and generates heavy thunderstorms in Montana and North Dakota.

          This is different than waiting for the "Big One" out in California. There it is the awesome and swift unfolding of a relatively unlikely event. With little tremors to keep us slightly focused.

          This record flooding is drawn out in stages and people generally can move out of the way, at least. The new Biblical Flooding By Dam Failure (tm) has an added exponential factor of completely wiping away of the very ground underneath our feet.  

          Speaking of the ground underneath our feet, let's not think about what a triggering of a New Madrid event would add to the general chaos.

          For those in the potential path of this, keep aware and pack some bags for a quick get-a-way.

          No one is outside the circle of the heart

          by kafkananda on Thu Jun 23, 2011 at 05:18:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Ah (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cotterperson, kafkananda

        That explains the title "Bibilcal Proportions". I didn't listen to the whole thing, assumed it was traditional flooding blown out of proportion a bit! That would be catastrophic. Indeed.

        "I'll tell you, if there's anything worse than dealing with a staunch woman. S.T.A.U.N.C.H. There's nothing worse, I'm telling 'ya!". Little Edie

        by vintage dem on Thu Jun 23, 2011 at 01:11:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  These resevoirs are huge! (0+ / 0-)

          The failures would be on TOP of record flooding do to excessive spring rain and snowpack. One hundred miles is nothing to these guys. And miles wide. And the dams are over 200 feet high.  And there are six of these. Failure of any one of which would start the dominoes falling downstream. If these fail in this domino scenario, it would scour a wide channel down to and through Louisiana. All east-west infrastructure would be broken and huge sections removed. And we can't rule out the ocean making a large intrusion up the middle of the country.

          No one is outside the circle of the heart

          by kafkananda on Thu Jun 23, 2011 at 05:32:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  According to news reports, (5+ / 0-)

    one of those plants is in cold shutdown, but the spent fuel pools are full, even 'over capacity', can you say Fukishima?

    May you live in interesting times--Chinese curse

    by oldcrow on Thu Jun 23, 2011 at 12:45:24 PM PDT

    •  Kinda like (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cotterperson, radical simplicity

      a pre-tsunami Fukushima.

      "Here's another nice mess you've gotten me into." - Oliver Hardy

      by native on Thu Jun 23, 2011 at 01:04:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Pre-tsunami Fukushima was live. (0+ / 0-)

        Two of the six reactors were shut down, but the four problematic ones were still live when the tsunami hit.  That's why a lot of power resources are out in northern Japan.

        Ft. Calhoun has been in cold shutdown since April for maintenance, and Cooper will shut down if the river rises a few more inches--but the river is still 15-18 feet below what it would take to flood Cooper Nuclear Power Plant.  

        The problem with the spent fuel pools in Fukushima was architectural--they were literally above the active reactors.  This is a pretty unusual structure for a power plant--I don't know if either Ft. Calhoun or Cooper use a similar structure. has been posting daily updates.

        •  It seems likely (3+ / 0-)

          that Calhoun and Cooper are both fairly well prepared for the expected flooding that WILL come. Shank is talking about something many times more severe, that MIGHT happen. There's a clear risk of multiple dam failures, in which case it won't matter at all how well the plants have been engineered - they will be toast. That's a risk that never should have been allowed to occur. An unacceptable risk.

          "Here's another nice mess you've gotten me into." - Oliver Hardy

          by native on Thu Jun 23, 2011 at 01:55:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  But that's a risk... (0+ / 0-)

            ...for any site along any river, and there are an awful lot of rivers in these United States.

            It's far, far more likely that either Ft. Calhoun or Cooper will take a direct hit from an F5 than that kind of flood will ever occur, and if that kind of flood were to occur, a nuclear meltdown will be the least of our worries.

            •  I don't think so.... if these dams are in such a (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              jayden, vintage dem, kafkananda

              poor state of repair, the amount of water behind each of them is enormous as it is now.  Should the dam closest to the source waters collapse, the pressure on the next dam will in all probability be too great for it to withstand it.  Therefore causing a cascading failure of the dams.  It will literally be a wall of water going down the Missouri.

              Take a look at pictures of the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids, Iowa from the 2008 floods.  The river rose 15 feet in 3 days.  It finally maxed out at 31.2 feet, the previous record was just over 19 feet, 60 years ago.  That would be minor in comparison to having 6 dams fail and the water behind them coming down.

  •  RELAX - It's not 2012 yet! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    radical simplicity

    Great!  One more thing to lose some sleep over.  

    Well, if that were to happen, I'd guess nuclear fuel and waste would get swept down the length of the Missouri and lower Mississippi River systems.  

    The darkness drops again but now I know That twenty centuries of stony sleep Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? William Butler Yeats

    by deepsouthdoug on Thu Jun 23, 2011 at 01:30:27 PM PDT

  •  Daily flood updates: (0+ / 0-) (Today's updates, includes nuclear power plant information)

  •  If that first dam, or more precisely, the dam (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vintage dem

    that is closest to the source water, goes...... It's going to put a hell of a lot of pressure on the next dam.

    How much of the snow pack is still left??  Hopefully, it's almost done for the season.

    Someone in another diary a day, or so, ago was claiming that the plants were already flooded out.  When it was pointed out that no, they haven't yet.  Getting strained, but not inundated and that the plants had built levees around themselves.  The poster went on to say that enough of the 'area' has flooded and since nuke plants 'leak' radiation, all our food sources are now contaminated.  Well, where the hell was the concern when the Missouri went on a rampage in '93???  If the guy thinks the trace amounts leaking has contaminated the food supply, he shouldn't be buying anything, but growing everything himself......

    Yes, a rant........ The real danger is if one of lead dams breaks causing a cascade failure of dams down river and completely running over the nuke plants and causing damage to the containment units and/or spent fuel ponds.

  •  Yea!!! Huzzah for not caring about infrastructure! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Chicken are going to start coming home to roost. In the last 30 years we cared more about tax cuts, subsidies and short term solutions now the next 30 years will see the consequences of short sightedness.

  •  Brownville Levee just failed. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Per the National Weather Service:


Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site