170308_cooper_file

Officials with Cooper Nuclear Station responded Saturday morning to reports of a fire around a pipe and presence of a hazardous gas in the facility’s basement. The plant is located in southeast Nebraska near the Missouri River.

BROWNVILLE, Neb. — Fire crews attached to the Cooper Nuclear Station in southeast Nebraska extinguished a blaze Saturday morning that was discovered near a pipe.

The Nebraska Public Power District — which owns and operates the facility near Brownville, Nebraska — said an “unusual event” was declared at 9:04 a.m. Saturday. That designation was implemented when personnel on scene found hazardous gas in the plant’s basement.

Cooper officials said fire was noticed within a pipe chase — the space surrounding the unit — while the gas was being investigated.

A fire brigade succeeded in extinguishing the fire at 9:51 a.m. Other crews were dispatched to monitor the piping, review equipment damage, provide support for engineering, and maintain a fire watch.

Officials said that at no time did conditions at the plant pose a threat to public safety. The facility was stable and continued with operations during the incident.

Such “unusual events” are defined as minor in scope, which have occurred or are ongoing, and that indicates possible degradation in the level of safety at the station.

Plant personnel act according to an emergency response plan and notify agencies at all levels of government as part of that process.

Officials said fire personnel stayed at the site until it was determined there were no further chances for the area to reignite. The power district issued an all-clear statement to local and area authorities by late afternoon.

Ray Scherer can be reached

at ray.scherer@newspressnow.com.

Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPScherer.