As we’ve heard Florida Governor Rick Scott say over the last couple of days, Hurricane Irma is no joke; she’s bigger, stronger and faster than Hurricane Andrew and expected to do intense destruction. And in her path are two South Florida power plants. To put it in perspective, the last time a major hurricane hit the Turkey Point nuclear power plant, it caused $90 million in damage. And that was no Irma.
Florida Power & Light’s two nuclear plants were up and running until Thursday 1 because the shutdown process is a gradual one and FPL wanted to be absolutely sure it was necessary. Also, according to Peter Robbins, spokesman for FPL, their plants were built to withstand quite a bit:
“FPL has long defended the safety of its nuclear power plants, which both sit along the coast where they are potentially exposed to the strongest winds and storm surge of hurricanes. And Turkey Point weathered a Category 5 strike from Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
Robbins said the 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 Nuclear Power 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.” 2
It remains to be seen just how terrifying Irma will be and what kind of damage she will be able to inflict. However, when it comes to nuclear power plants, I’m of the opinion that you can’t be too careful; pride does come right before a fall and neither the citizens of Florida nor our environment needs another nuclear plant problem. Especially on the ocean.
I’m overjoyed that officials have decided to be safe rather than sorry. And I’m sure the people of Florida are as well. Stay safe everyone.