Published: Sun, September 10, 2017
Global Media | By Garry Long

Hurricane Irma: FPL could expect over 4 million customers without power

Hurricane Irma: FPL could expect over 4 million customers without power

Electricity generator Florida Power & Light said on Thursday it would shut its two nuclear power plants in Florida ahead of Hurricane Irma's winds if the storm hits the state.

The company plans to continue operating its natural gas plants during the storm, as long as it is safe and below 100 miles per hour winds, and to get them back online as soon as possible if it shuts them down, FPL president Eric Silagy said at a press conference.

There have not been cases of nuclear reactors damaged by hurricanes in the United States, but two plants in New Jersey - Oyster Creek and Salem - had to shut down in advance of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. During Hurricane Andrew, access roads to the plant were blocked by debris, so that skeleton crew was crucial.

The shutdown of St. Lucie and Turkey Point goes a long way to assuage fears of an incident similar to Fukushima Dai-ichi, a power plant in Japan that suffered a reactor meltdown after the March 2011 tsunami. According to CNBC, Hurricane Irma could cause a quarter of a trillion dollars in damage if it is still a category 5 storm once it reaches Miami...

That disaster was the result of a dreaded combination of an quake accompanied by a tsunami.

"We have safely operated these plants for over 40 years", Silagy said.

The NRC said the plants should not be compromised by Irma's storm surge. Repairs cost about $90 million.

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FPL shut St Lucie last October as Hurricane Matthew skirted the Florida coast.

The St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant is also equally protected, Robbins told the Herald.

Duke is in the process of transferring used fuel from the spent fuel pool at the plant to dry cask storage as part of work to decommission the plant. This will help in protecting some of the grid infrastructures, making it easier to restore power once the flood waters recede.

Irma destroyed government buildings, tore roofs from houses and left northern Caribbean islands without power or communications.

The company, which serves five million accounts representing 10 million people in 35 counties, expects to perform major restoration efforts on Florida's east coast and a rebuild of its system on the west coast, which Irma is expected to destroy. FPL is one of four large publicly traded utilities in Florida.

Bell Chem makes the bleaching agent sodium hypochlorite at a plant in Longwood, just north of Orlando.

Other natural disasters since Fukushima have shut some plants. Authorities have indicated that the situation is being monitored and the reactors would be shut down before Hurricane Irma strikes.

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