Florida Power & Light announced Thursday that it is putting workers in place around the state to quickly respond to possible power outages in the wake of Hurricane Irma. “It’s going to take time”. Virgin Islands, with the islands of St. Thomas and St. John reporting that all customers had lost power. But the strength and size of Irma could weaken even those best efforts.
But South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard said he was concerned about the potential for floods to damage power generators at Turkey Point, which in turn might threaten the ability of the plant to keep spent nuclear fuel rods cool.
That site, Crystal River, has been permanently shut down and is in “SAFSTOR” status, where actual decommissioning is deferred for years, said Scott Burnell, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The plant’s nuclear generators will be completely powered down.
The company’s two nuclear power plants, at Turkey Point and St. Lucie, will be out of commission a day before 100 miles per hour winds arrive and for the duration of the storm, as required by federal nuclear regulations.
FPL said customers should expect “prolonged power outages” during the storm and should be prepared for more than one outage through the duration of Irma’s assault on the state.
Silagy noted the Turkey Point station suffered a direct hit from Category 5 Hurricane Andrew in 1992. “It was open and ready to operate long before the roads were cleared”.
The restoration “will start as soon as we can get out safely on the roads”.
They said there’s a chance that up to 190,000 people in Orange and Osceola counties can go dark. “You can’t rebuild someone’s life”.
The utility will be monitoring substations, the facilities that alter voltage levels from high to low on the way to homes and buildings, at risk of flooding, Gould said, and may pre-emptively shut some stations to prevent water damage.
“FPL has built the most sophisticated and strongest power grid in the nation”.
The utility has already positioned equipment and workers to help bring electricity back up and running as fast as possible, but fears the force of Irma’s winds may snap concrete poles, Silagy said.
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. “It may stretch into weeks”.