As Hurricane Irma barreled toward Florida, where two nuclear plants seemed to be in the deadly storm’s direct path, electric company officials continued to plan for the worst while remaining unsure whether to shut down the Turkey Point and St. Lucie facilities.
Peter Robbins, spokesman for Florida Power and Light, said shutting down a reactor is a gradual process, and the decision will be made “well in advance” of the Category 5 storm making landfall.
“If we anticipate there will be direct impacts on either facility, we’ll shut down the units,” Robbins told the Miami Herald.
“Based on the current track, we would expect severe weather in Florida starting Saturday, meaning we would potentially shut down before that point,” he told Reuters in an email.
The two plants — Turkey Point and St. Lucie — are equally protected, Robbins said. FPL has long defended the safety of its nuclear plants, both of which sit along the Atlantic coast, where they are potentially exposed to the strongest winds and storm surge of hurricanes.
Robbins said the Turkey Point plant’s reactors are encased in six feet of steel-reinforced concrete and sit 20 feet above sea level. Turkey Point has backup generators, extra fuel and, as a “backup to the backup,” replacement parts and materials can be flown in from Tennessee.
The St. Lucie plant is equally protected, Robbins said, and can withstand severe flooding from storm surges. St. Lucie’s nuclear plant survived Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne in 2005 and Wilma the year after.
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SOURCE: Fox News