Frequently Asked Questions about Turkey Point Plant
How does a nuclear power plant work?
The fuel in a nuclear power plant is uranium, which is a natural ore found in the ground. Unlike coal, gas and oil, we don't burn uranium in a nuclear power plant. We get the heat needed to create steam from a process known as fission, or the splitting of atoms – the smallest parts of any element. Like all pressurized water reactors, Turkey Point has distinct loops of water that do not intermix. A closed loop of water is heated by fission in the reactor. We then transfer this heat to a second loop of water. The steam drives the turbine-generator that produces electricity.
Where does FPL get the water used in plant operations?
Water used in the reactor and most other plant systems is piped in from the Miami-Dade municipal water supply. We then purify the water at the plant to reduce mineral deposits that could otherwise reduce equipment efficiency and we test the water quality routinely in the plant's on-site laboratory. A separate supply of water that cools the turbine steam supply for reuse comes from a unique, closed system of 36 interconnected canals. The canals act like a giant radiator to cool the water in a two-day, 168-mile journey before it is circulated back to the condenser for reuse.
Do we really need the power from Turkey Point?
Yes. Turkey Point provides enough electricity to meet the annual power needs of about 450,000 residential customers. The Turkey Point nuclear units are safe and are among the most efficient plants in the FPL system.
Turkey Point's safety performance
What is Turkey Point's performance record?
Turkey Point is one of the best performing nuclear plants in the country, as well as in the world. The plant received "superior" ratings for five consecutive years from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a federal government agency that oversees all U.S. nuclear plants. No other plant has achieved this rating for this long. Turkey Point also received special NRC recognition in 1997 as one of two superior performers in the nation. In addition, the World Association of Nuclear Operators has rated Turkey Point as one of the top performing U.S. nuclear power plants.
How safe are nuclear plants?
Nuclear power plants are very safe, as is FPL's Turkey Point plant. FPL maintains very high operating standards and meets or surpasses regulatory requirements. Employee and public health and safety are of highest priority at FPL in everything we do. Our plant workers are thoroughly trained and are experts in their fields. To further protect the public, our nuclear units are designed to use automatic safety systems and multiple safety barriers as part of our "safety first" policy.
Who regulates or oversees the operation of Turkey Point to make sure it's safe?
First, our employees are our most expert safety guardians. Each employee understands that nuclear safety is his or her primary responsibility. Our plants are also monitored closely by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a federal government agency that oversees all U.S. nuclear power plants. Daily and special inspections – some unannounced – are conducted on site at Turkey Point to make sure we meet federal regulations that protect public health, safety and the environment.
What kind of maintenance is done on plant equipment?
We have a rigorous maintenance program at Turkey Point to make sure the plant runs reliably. Our employees are skilled in using preventive maintenance techniques to test and repair or replace equipment on regular schedules. As a result of this ongoing maintenance, our plant can operate safely and reliably now and in the future.
What kind of security is in place to protect the plant?
FPL has always had a comprehensive security program at its nuclear power plants, and extensive measures are in place to ensure the security of our facility. Our security plan is very detailed in how our security force is organized and what actions would be taken to protect the plant. Although we are not allowed to discuss the specifics of our plan, our comprehensive security measures at Turkey Point are designed to protect public health and safety.
Does FPL communicate with other law enforcement agencies?
FPL nuclear security programs and personnel are part of a larger local and national security network and are tested routinely to ensure the safety of our employees, our customers and the communities in which our plants operate. Plant security personnel coordinate with local law enforcement agencies, which also participate in onsite security exercises. We also keep in close communication with the FBI, Coast Guard and other government agencies relating to security.
How do you test your security program?
Each of our nuclear power plants conducts tactical security drills periodically, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission evaluates these drills. Drills are quite rigorous, and FPL has successfully completed each drill.
What physical barriers and emergency equipment protect the Turkey Point nuclear reactors?
The Turkey Point nuclear reactors are housed in massive steel-reinforced concrete reactor containment buildings that are designed to withstand earthquakes, floods and extreme weather conditions, such as hurricanes and tornadoes.
The reactor vessel itself is made of solid steel and is housed within the containment building. Additionally, the uranium fuel pellets inside the reactor are all encased in zircaloy, an extremely strong metal alloy. Redundant safety shutdown systems are also available to respond in the event of an emergency.
The Electric Power Research Institute, an independent, nonprofit energy research group, also recently analyzed aircraft impacts on nuclear plant structures that house reactor fuel. The study results determined that the structures would not be breached, the fuel would be protected and there would be no radiation release. In addition to the containment building, other protective barriers include concrete shields within the building and the 5- to 9-inch-thick steel reactor vessel.
Turkey Point in the community
What benefits does Turkey Point provide to our local community?
The plant is not only located in the community it serves, but is an integral part of that community. Our employees are actively involved in United Way, Scout organizations, Little League Baseball, chambers of commerce and other local organizations. We are one of the area's largest employers, while providing a solid base of community support through local purchases, service contracts and tax payments. Our plant also does its part by providing a reliable source of electricity from safe, affordable and pollution-free nuclear power.
How many crocodiles live in the plant cooling canals? How does FPL track the population?
The cooling canals provide a safe haven for the endangered American crocodile. During nesting season, more than 40 adult crocodiles have been observed in the canals. Plant specialists count crocodile nests annually to record population changes. We're committed to the continuing protection of the species and to conducting crocodile research, while encouraging ongoing public education.