( ENSPIRE News ) Hurricane Irma Expected to Hit Two Nuclear Power Plants
ENSPIRE Contributor: Carlos Luciano
Hurricane Irma is highly anticipated to hit Florida tomorrow. In its path, Turkey Point and St. Lucie, two nuclear power plants that are now in the process of shutting down in expectation of the hurricane-strength winds reaching South Florida. This comes following news that Arkema a French chemical company has a facility in Houston that started spewing noxious smoke and may explode. Irma’s sustained winds have been reported at 185 mph, with gusts above 215 mph. These winds have caused significant damage to several northern Pacific Islands including 90% of Barbuda, St. Martin, and now Puerto Rico.
“If we anticipate there will be direct impacts on either facility, we’ll shut down the units,” said Peter Robbins, spokesman for the operator of the plants, Florida Power & Light, according to the Miami Herald.
Over the years Turkey Point and St. Lucie has been hit by hurricanes without being shut down, sometimes multiple times per season. This only goes to show how powerful record-breaking Irma truly is. Afterall, St. Lucie’s nuclear plant survived Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne in 2005 and Wilma the year after. The eye of Hurricane Andrew passed over Turkey Point in 1992, accumulating $90 million dollars of damage to the plant which included systems thought to be hurricane proof.
“Florida’s Governor Rick Scott, ‘this storm is bigger, stronger and faster”, than Hurricane Andrew. He calls for the Florida’s National Guard and evacuations.”- Miami Herald
Hence, the response to shut down these facilities. Irma is proving to be a real threat to the Florida coastline. The St. Lucie power plant sits above sea level and is reinforced with steel and concrete, which allows for support comes a possible flood. Although, Irma has already proven itself capable of knocking out Puerto Rico’s power for the next few months.