Cooper Nuclear Station, located downriver and situated on higher ground, is still operating. Despite the official assurances of safety, the unusual sight of a nuclear plant surrounded by water — coming so soon after the still unfolding nuclear disaster that followed the earthquake and tsunami in Japan — has prompted concern and speculation.
Earlier this month, the Fort Calhoun plant briefly lost power needed to cool the spent fuel pool after a fire that remains under investigation. The Fort Calhoun plant, which sits nearly two feet below the current river level, has taken a number of protective measures.
Downriver, where the record water level set two decades ago has been broken, the Cooper plant near Brownville is still producing power.
The river would need to rise more than a foot and a half to force a shutdown, said Mark Becker, a spokesman for the Nebraska Public Power District, which operates the plant. "We'll continue to operate until we reach that level," he said.