World News

Additional inspectors sent to Florida's nuclear plants ahead of Irma - NRC

Additional inspectors sent to Florida's nuclear plants ahead of Irma - NRC

The call doesn't mean your electricity is about to go out, but you can expect lose power sometime if Irma remains on its track through South Florida, said FPL, which provides electricity to a total of 10 million people. "We have to wait until the winds subside to 40mph to get on the road, 35mph to get buckets in the air". "We're going to continue operating until the storm no longer allows us to do so and then we are going to restore power".

Don't venture out in the dark, because you might not see a downed power line that could be energized and risky; avoid standing water and debris.

FPL said it will also shut the other nuclear plant in Florida at St Lucie, which also has two reactors on a barrier island on the state's east coast, about 120 miles (193 km) north of Miami.

However, Silagy said FPL is more prepared to respond than they ever have been for a storm before.

Though Rob Gould, chief communications officer at FPL, declined to offer specific timing on when the facilities would be shuttered, he did indicate that both sites "are among the strongest in [the] United States".

FPL plans to shut down its Turkey Point and St. Lucie nuclear plants well ahead of the storm - Gould wouldn't provide specifics about the timing - and keep them offline until it's safe to bring them back on. He said that although some power lines are underground, storm surge and flooding can affect those lines. Turkey Point's date back to 1972 and 1973; St Lucie's were commissioned in 1976.

Strong waves hit the Malecon seawall in Havana Cuba
Strong waves hit the Malecon seawall in Havana Cuba

"Turkey Point actually had a direct impact hit by Hurricane Andrew, a category 5, and suffered no damage to its nuclear facilities", Silagy stated.

"We don't turn those off".

"I'll do anything in my power to convince [people] this is a very serious storm. It's the first thing that we fix", she said. The storm left the power plant on backup generators and officials had to cool down the nuclear reactors after shutting the plant down completely. Regulators assumed plants would not need to be without power for more than eight hours, said David Lochbaum, a nuclear power plant safety expert at the Union of Concerned Scientists. The storm caused $90 million in damage to the plant, including a smokestack cracked in half by the hurricane's winds, the Miami Herald reported.

According to FPL spokesperson Peter Robbins, Turkey Point's nuclear reactors are enclosed in six feet of steel-reinforced concrete and are situated 20 feet above sea level.

These are the planes that fly into and above hurricanes and tropical storms to gather the weather data that is used to make forecasts and warnings.

"We are not taking any chances", said Silagy.

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