From [HERE] Throughout Florida, Hurricane Irma – touted as a “once in a generation” storm – is causing widespread panic. More than 600,000 people have been ordered to evacuate amid concerns about the potential damage to buildings and infrastructure the Category 4 storm could cause. Though many coastal structures are certainly in danger, with Irma’s center expected to pass right over Miami, another grave danger posed by the storm is being ignored.
The Turkey Point nuclear power plant, located just 25 miles south of Miami, is in the direct path of Hurricane Irma, prompting the plant’s operator – Florida Power and Light (FPL) – to announce the temporary shutdown of the site on Thursday. FPL declined to specify the timing of the shutdown, according to local reports. FPL chief communications officer, Rob Gould, told reporters on Thursday that the Turkey Point site is “one of the safest and most robust structures in the state, if not the country” and that its reactors “are designed to withstand heavy wind and storm surge.”
However, Gould’s characterization of Turkey Point’s safety is at odds with the facts: as will be detailed, the threat of contamination persists in spite of the plant-wide shutdown.
A history of leaks and storm damage
While Turkey Point was originally built to withstand up to 235 mph winds, that was in 1974, over 40 years ago. Since it was built, the site has been damaged by major hurricanes such as Hurricane Andrew in 1992, which caused $90 million in damages to the site. This included significant damage to systems that were allegedly “hurricane-proof,” such as the site’s main water tank – which was completely destroyed – and the site’s water treatment plant. Turkey Point was left running on backup generators for a week to cool the shut-down reactors. [MORE]