Cooper Nuclear Station

The Cooper Nuclear Station is one of the 104 nuclear power plants providing 20 percent of the power used in United States. Cooper Nuclear Station is located near Brownville, Nebraska, and is the operator of the state’s largest single electrical generator. Named for Guy Cooper, Sr. and Guy Cooper, Jr. to honor their work in the field of public power within the state of Nebraska, this station has been in operation since it opened in July of 1974.

Although this facility is both owned and maintained by the Nebraska Public Power District, some of the power that it generates is used by other utility companies as well. The Cooper Nuclear Station produces approximately 20 percent of the total power generated by the Nebraska Public Power District.

The Cooper Nuclear Station utilizes a steam-powered turbine-generator to produce electricity. Steam is created from water that has been heated by the fission of nuclear fuel within a nuclear reactor. This steam then turns the turbine-generator, which results in electric power. The Cooper Nuclear Station can produce enough power to meet the needs of the Lincoln and Grand Isle areas throughout their highest usage period in the summer.  The radiation levels of well water, river water, air, soil, milk, vegetation and wildlife from the area surrounding the Cooper Nuclear Station are frequently monitored to ensure the safety of the local environment. Currently, no negative environmental effects have been found.

In order to maintain a high level of competency among its staff, the Cooper Nuclear Station also houses and operates the Cooper Nuclear Station Learning Center. This continuing education facility was designed to conduct training programs for its employees. These programs are periodically evaluated by the National Nuclear Academy to verify that they meet industry standards. Located within the Learning Center is a replica of the power station’s control room that is used to train the Cooper Nuclear Station’s reactor operators to run the control room in an emergency situation as well as on a daily basis.

The heat provided by the nuclear reactor to create the steam needed for energy production at the Cooper Nuclear Station also brings an increased risk of fire. At the time of its construction, asbestos-containing materials were commonly used in nuclear power stations like Cooper to prevent the spread of fire and reduce the risk of damage to the nuclear reactor. These materials were also used to provide insulation, though they ultimately proved to have devastating health consequences for the employees who worked with and around them.