While a firm restart date remains elusive, Nebraska's Fort Calhoun nuclear plant took a significant step in that direction Tuesday by heating up its reactor coolant system for tests.The reactor is not critical. Rather, the plant's coolant pumps are circulating water through the system while workers ensure there are no leaks, according to a post on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's blog. NRC inspectors remain on site to confirm the system is sound and to continue monitoring Fort Calhoun as it works its way through a lengthy checklist of conditions that need to be addressed before the plant can restart. The NRC noted it is planning an update on progress to that end for a future meeting that has not yet been scheduled.Operated by the Omaha Public Power District, Fort Calhoun has been shut down since a refueling outage in April of 2011. Since then, severe flooding on the adjacent Missouri River, a fire in a switchgear room, numerous regulatory violations and problems with plant equipment have kept the reactor offline. OPPD has handed day-to-day management of the plant to Exelon and replaced hundreds of components as it seeks NRC approval to restart.
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