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Fort Calhoun Station, the nation's smallest nuclear power plant, went offline for good at 12:55 p.m. Monday.

The operation went smoothly, Omaha Public Power said in a news release.

"The men and women working at Fort Calhoun Station fulfilled their responsibilities with professionalism and honor," the utility said. "The focus now turns to defueling, which we anticipate will be completed by mid-November.

"Safety remains our top priority throughout this and all phases of decommissioning."

The Omaha Public Power District board decided earlier this year that the plant is no longer financially sustainable.

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“This is an historic and somber day for everyone at OPPD, past and present,” OPPD President and CEO Tim Burke said on the district's website Monday. "The decision to cease operations ... has never been about employee performance.

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“For more than 40 years, the men and women who have worked here have done so with a passion to serve that reflects the very best in our company and our community. I want to acknowledge the work, especially over these last few months, under really tough conditions. Employees have remained focused on doing their jobs safely and with the highest levels of professionalism. Everyone should be assured that dedication will continue in the coming months and years as Fort Calhoun Station completes its defueling and begins the decommissioning process.”

The shutdown Monday was one of the first of many steps of a decommissioning process that could stretch on for as many as 60 years and cost more than $1 billion.

During that process, the utility will have to decontaminate and disassemble elements of the power plant.

The nuclear plant sits on the Missouri River across from Iowa and is about 15 miles north of Omaha.

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