Mechanical problem blame. ‘Regular event’
Only days after OPPD showed off its Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Station safety to KETV 7 ABC, so it could alleviate public fears about the plant’s former technical problems, now surrounded by floodwater in a declared emergency area, a pilot and a line maintenance worker for OPPD looking from the air for weaknesses in the plant’s transmission lines Thursday came down in the helicopter they were in, forced to make an emergency landing due to mechanical failure.
Reportedly, the pilot and passenger were uninjured and it was a regular event for the pilot to take someone for observation and trouble shooting.
KETV 7 ABC news reported:
“According to Omaha Public Power District officials, the helicopter operated by P&N Flight of Marion, Iowa, made the unplanned landing about 1 1/2 miles south of the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant shortly before 1 p.m. The two people on board — the pilot and an OPPD employee — were not injured in the incident, officials said.” (www.ketv.com/missouri-river-flooding-extended-coverage/28335950/detail.html#ixzz1QDIG3ycu)
One investigator on the scene assessed that it is “surprising” that the two on board were able to “simply walk away considering the conditions” according to WOWT 6 News.
Fort Calhoun Station, approximately 20 miles north of Omaha closed to refuel in April. Parts of the grounds are under at least two feet of water as the swollen Missouri overflows its banks according to CNN. OPPD has been surveying the transmission lines to look for weaknesses due to flood conditions.
“This is a regular event with them where they check lines and they get this company and they’ve used this company for three to four years and it’s standard practice for the pilot to take an employee with them for observation and trouble shooting,” said Washington County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Tom Lamb.
“Imagine the frequency of those, with the flooding has increased in those flights.”
The photo of the “landing” appears to be not a landing, but a crash. Reporters at WOWT 6 News television, in its report, “Helicopter Makes Hard Landing,” with footage of the scene, called it a crash. The helicopter is viewed on its side.
The survivors are reportedly unhurt, but were not interviewed in the WOWT report.
Both of Fort Calhoun and Cooper nuclear stations are on alert and this past weekend, President Obama declared emergencies in the Nebraska counties where the stations are both experiencing “unusual events.”