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Three US Nuclear Facilities Threatened by Flood, Fire

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Flames from the Las Conchas fire burn in the hills above Los Alamos National Laboratory, a nuclear facility, June 27, 2011. (REUTERS/Craig Fritz)

Just months after a tsunami set off a nuclear crisis in Japan, three nuclear facilities in the United States are under siege, threatened by two separate natural disasters.

It almost seems as if Mother Nature is decidedly anti-nuke.

Just months after a tsunami slammed into a Japanese nuclear plant, causing a meltdown only miles from Tokyo, US authorities struggled to sustain three separate nuclear facilities from being consumed by natural disasters.

In Nebraska, the Missouri River overran its banks on June 17 and threatened two nuclear facilities, according to the Associated Press.

The floodwater surrounded one of the nuclear power plants, Fort Calhoun, pouring into a turbine building there. The rising water threatened a second nuclear facility, the Cooper plant, but authorities believe the higher elevation of the Cooper plant will protect it from the encroaching flood.
Both Nebraska plants are operated by the Omaha Public Power District.

"There is no possibility of a meltdown," Omaha Public Power District's CEO Gary Gates told the Associated Press on Monday. "The floodwaters are outside of Fort Calhoun, not inside."

Separately, the largest wildfire in Arizona's history has crossed into New Mexico and is threatening the Los Alamos nuclear facility, Reuters reported on Monday.

Los Alamos is home to the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the United States.

The massive and fast-moving fire crossed the property line of the giant Los Alamos complex, and firefighters were able to fend it off. However, the town of Los Alamos was forced to evacuate.

"The facility is very well protected from any kind of wild land fire threat," Kevin Roark, a spokesman for the Los Alamos complex told Reuters.
But firefighters told a different story.

"This fire is going to be with us for a while. It has the potential to double and triple in size," Los Alamos Fire Chief Doug Tucker said, according to Reuters.

The United States relies on a large number of nuclear power plants, scattered across a continent that offers diversity in natural disasters. US nuclear facilities number more than any other nation in the world.

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