UPDATE (9/10/2017 – 10 a.m. EST): The NRC activated the Region II Incident Response Center in Atlanta and entered the agency’s monitoring mode just after 6 p.m.yesterday. One unit at the Turkey Point plant is shutdown, but the other unit continues to operate because winds on site have been projected to not exceed hurricane strength. Florida Power & Light has told the NRC it currently has no plans to shut down the two units at the St. Lucie plant because projected wind speeds there are also expected to be below the hurricane level.
Latest Press Release: NRC Preparing for Hurricane Irma – Sept. 8, 2017
Senior Public Affairs Officer, Region II
At least two nuclear power plants, Turkey Point and St. Lucie, are in the predicted path of Hurricane Irma. Both are preparing for the strong and potentially damaging storm – just as they have for past dangerous hurricanes.
Twenty-five years ago, Turkey Point was directly in the path of Hurricane Andrew, a Category 5 storm, and although many of the plant’s structures were damaged and offsite power lines were lost, important safety equipment was safely maintained.
Florida Power & Light, the company that operates Turkey Point and St. Lucie, is working through a very detailed storm preparation procedure. That work includes checking equipment and supplies such as diesel generator fuel, securing or moving other equipment or items that might be blown around, and implementing a staffing plan to ensure enough operators and support staff are on site around the clock if roads become inaccessible.
Meanwhile, the NRC’s resident inspectors at the two sites are watching and ensuring company employees are following their procedures. The NRC’s Region II office in Atlanta has already dispatched two additional inspectors to Turkey Point and two others to St. Lucie so the resident inspectors assigned to those sites can take care of their homes and families.
As Hurricane Irma moves closer, the NRC will activate its Incident Response Center in Atlanta for around the clock staffing and begin ongoing communications with the plants and the NRC inspectors on site.
Procedures require both plants to be shut down prior to the onset of hurricane-force winds on site, and remain shut down until equipment has been checked and reliable offsite power lines are restored. The plants have diesel generators that can provide power to keep the plants in a safe condition for many days if offsite power is not available.
In addition, regional inspectors have been in contact with NRC license holders in Puerto Rico, Florida and other potentially affected states, which have responsibility for securing radioactive materials during the storm.
Hurricane Andrew and other natural events that have affected nuclear plants in past decades have provided the NRC with a wealth of experience in responding to conditions that can be expected during Hurricane Irma.