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FPL shuts 2 Florida nuclear units over weekend amid Hurricane Irma

Both generating units at Florida Power & Light's Turkey Point nuclear plant south of Miami were shut over the weekend as Hurricane Irma moved along Florida's coast, although in the end hurricane-force winds steered west of the area, avoiding the closure of the company's St. Lucie nuclear station also located on the Florida coast.

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One unit, the 885 MW Turkey Point-3, was shut preventively on Saturday, at which point the utility decided not to shut the Turkey Point-4 unit, also of 885 MW, when new forecasts suggested there would not be hurricane-force winds at the site in Homestead, Florida.

It is a regulatory requirement that the units be shut at least two hours before such winds.

However, in a report to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission Sunday, FPL said operators did manually shut Turkey Point-4 at 6:55 pm EDT Sunday due to the failure of a valve connected to a steam generator at the reactor. The company is investigating the cause of the valve failure, it added.

FPL said in a separate report to NRC that it was not planning to shut the two St. Lucie units, with a total capacity of 2,213 MW, because revised forecasts no longer called for hurricane-force winds to affect the site in Jensen Beach, Florida. Both units will continue to operate at 100% of capacity through the storm, it said.

Company officials had said last week, when the hurricane was forecast to pass closer to both stations, they planned to shut all four units.

--William Freebairn,
--Edited by James Leech,