Nuke plant stopped spent fuel pumps to fight fire

By RAY HENRY | June 8, 2011 | 12:29 PM EDT

ATLANTA (AP) — A nuclear power plant in Nebraska briefly turned off the pumps used to cool spent nuclear fuel so that workers could fight an electrical fire.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission reports that plant workers at the Fort Calhoun Station near Omaha, Neb., on Tuesday turned off the pumps used to recirculate water in a pool holding hot, radioactive nuclear that was fuel previously used in the reactor.

Omaha Public Power District spokesman Mike Jones said the utility turned off the system for about an hour Tuesday to isolate the fire. The pumps are now working. The company had backup equipment but didn't need to use it.

If the pool pumps failed for a long time, pool water could boil away, causing the used fuel to catch fire and release radiation.