FPL's nuclear plants are designed for severe events.
Each plant has been specially designed to withstand a variety of natural events such as earthquakes, storm surges and flooding associated with hurricanes, tornadoes and high winds without losing the capability to perform its safety functions. Key facts:
- The heavily fortified reactor containment buildings are over three feet thick and are made of concrete reinforced with steel.
- FPL’s plants are designed to withstand the most extreme weather events, flooding or a storm surge 20 feet above sea level.
- Turkey Point withstood the direct impact of Category 5 Hurricane Andrew in 1992 with no damage to its nuclear systems.
- St. Lucie safely withstood category 3 hurricane “Jeanne” and category 2 hurricane “Frances” in rapid succession in 2004 with no damage to its nuclear systems.
FPL nuclear plants have extensive emergency plans and rigorous operator training programs.
All nuclear power plants have comprehensive emergency operating procedures to address worst-case scenarios, including earthquakes, loss-of-core cooling, and loss of all onsite and offsite power.
- Plant operators are required to undergo knowledge and performance testing one week out of every six weeks.
- Testing scenarios include events similar to the ones that took place in Japan and are run on a realistic plant simulator.
How do FPL's plants compare to Japan's?
One important distinction is the plant design. The Fukushima Daiichi Plant in Japan is a Boiling Water Reactor. FPL's reactors at Turkey Point and St. Lucie are Pressurized Water Reactors, whose design includes multiple safety systems such as:
- Four diesel generators that are protected by a concrete and steel-reinforced building. Each plant only requires one generator to maintain the cooling systems;
- An additional reactor cooling system powered by steam generated from the plant itself;
- Back-up batteries for critical safety systems;
- Separate spent fuel buildings
Importantly, safety and cooling systems can be powered for seven days without requiring any offsite power or additional fuel.
It is also important to note that because of location, the seismic activity in Japan is of a much greater magnitude than what could likely occur in Florida.
What has FPL done since the Japanese emergency to ensure plants will be safe in severe weather conditions?
Immediately following the Japanese emergency, FPL completed a four-part assessment designed to verify each plant’s readiness to respond to severe events and natural disasters. The four components of the initial assessment included:
- Reassessing the functionality of all emergency equipment put into place at each site following attacks of September 11, 2001.
- A full review of the plant’s ability to deal with loss of all power.
- An evaluation of the plant’s protection against severe flooding events.
- A detailed inspection of each plant to verify the readiness to deal with seismic events and other severe weather incidents, including tornados, high winds and hurricanes.