A malfunctioning pressure sensor on a Missouri River gauge near Brownville caused some "bad data" to be posted Sunday about flood conditions on the Missouri River near Brownville.

"One of two sensors went bad," said David Pearson, a meteorologist/hydrologist with the National Weather Service Office in Valley. He apologized for the mishap.

The data posted by the weather service showed the Missouri River reaching 901.73 feet above sea level at Brownville, which is about three miles north of Cooper Nuclear Station.

Nebraska Public Power District officials are concerned rising flood waters could force them to shut down the nuclear power plant if the river reaches a level of 902 feet above sea level.

"If within 36 hours we would be reaching 902, that's when we would start the process for plant shutdown," NPPD spokesman Mark Becker said.

The highest reading at Cooper on Sunday was 900.6 feet above sea level, he said.

By Monday morning, the river level had dropped to 900.4 feet, he said.

Sunday morning, NPPD declared a low-level emergency due to rising flood waters and notified federal and local officials.

Becker said Cooper employees are monitoring the river and re-checking sandbags and other protective barriers. He said he did not know if the recent rains will have an impact on river levels.

"This is going to be long-term," Becker said.

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Reach Algis J. Laukaitis at 402-473-7243 or alaukaitis@journalstar.com.

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