Nuclear officials in Florida are working on plans to shut down two nuclear plants if necessary due to the approaching Hurricane Irma, but no decision has yet been made.
“If we anticipate there will be direct impacts on either facility, we’ll shut down the units,” said Peter Robbins, Florida Power and Light spokesman, the Miami Herald reports.
“Based on the current track, we would expect severe weather in Florida starting Saturday, meaning we would potentially shut down before that point,” Robbins told Reuters.
Both plants, in Turkey Point and St. Lucie, are safe, Robbins said.
The Turkey Point reactors are in six feet of steel-reinforced concrete 20 feet above sea level, and the St. Lucie plant is protected similarly, according to Robbins, the Herald reported.
St. Lucie’s plant can handle severe flooding, according to a Florida Power & Light spokesman.
“It’s designed beyond the most severe natural disasters we’ve ever seen in the region. It’s absolutely designed to withstand extreme flooding,” the spokesman said, the TC Palm reported.
The Turkey Point plant survived a Category 5 hit from Hurricane Andrew in 1992, the report said. The plant has backup generators, extra fuel and parts and materials can be shipped in from Tennessee if needed, according to the Herald.
Andrew blew down 35 of the 41 warning sirens within 10 miles of the plant, and the plant had to run on backup generators for more than a week after Andrew. “It handled Andrew as it was designed to… it’s one of the safest and most robust structures in the state, if not the country,” Robbins said.