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Nebraska nuclear plant safe, river drops in Minot

Nebraska nuclear plant safe, river drops in Minot
The Souris River is swelling in size and breaching dikes built to contain the water in Minot, North Dakota, on June 22, 2011. By June 29, 2011, Mouse River pressures and heights will reach unprecedented levels—seven to ten feet higher than the all time record with pressures reaching approximately 16,000 cubic feet per second. On June 22, 2011 the river, breached the levees and the warning sirens sounded requiring the immediate evacuation of over 11,000 Minot residents to include nearly 1,000 Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen. UPI/Jesse Lopez/US Air Force | License Photo

FORT CALHOUN, Neb., June 28 (UPI) -- The Fort Calhoun, Neb., Nuclear Station, marooned by the flooding Missouri River, poses no immediate threat to the public, the top U.S. nuclear regulator said.

"The risk is really very low at this point that anything could go wrong," Gregory Jaczko, chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said in Omaha Monday after touring the idled facility.

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Jaczko toured the station 19 miles north of Omaha to see the flooding at the nation's smallest nuclear power plant, the Omaha World-Herald reported. The river was more than 2 feet up around the building with months of flood conditions remaining.

"It's certainly clear that this is not an issue that's going to go away anytime soon," Jaczko said.

The Omaha Public Power District plant went offline more than 11 weeks ago for a scheduled refueling outage. The plant will remain idle indefinitely, district officials said.

Further north in Minot, N.D., the Souris River dropped Monday, leaving muddy high-water marks on several homes along the city's western edge, the Minot Daily News reported. The slow drop will take place over several days, based on scheduled water releases from nearby Lake Darling by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and predictions by the National Weather Service. However, it wasn't clear when residents forced to evacuate could return home.

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About a third of Minot's population of nearly 36,000 has been evacuated because of record flooding from the Souris, which bisects the city.

Residents were still being told Tuesday to limit their water consumption, CNN reported. Workers were able to reach the site of a water line break but said it would probably be late Tuesday or some time Wednesday before they could restore water flow to normal.

Several postings on Minot-area media Facebook pages indicate roads are opening and free drinking water was being distributed. Other posts were seeking help in removing debris or with relocations, or asking that drivers be patient when trying to negotiate the streets.

The main north-south route through the city, the Broadway Bridge, has been closed to traffic other than emergency vehicles and those involved in the flood fight, leading to traffic jams, CNN said, resulting in hours-long commutes.

The Souris crested during the weekend at nearly 13 feet over flood stage.

Residents of Burlington, N.D., also are affected by flooding, experiencing problems from water being released from Garrison Reservoir into Missouri River, CNN said. Officials report about 4,000 people have been evacuated.

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