Regulators Cite FP&L For Safety Violations – Energy Matters

Posted by Trish Riley, June 23, 2010

By Roger Witherspoon

“Federal regulators have fined Florida Power & Light $70,000 for improperly maintaining hundreds of tons of highly radioactive spent fuel at their Turkey Point 3 power plant near Homestead, in violation of their operating license.

This is the second nuclear facility owned by FP&L to come under NRC fire in two months. In May, continuing problems with critical safety systems at the St. Lucie nuclear power plant resulted in the NRC downgrading the site’s status to among the worst run facilities in the nation.

The problem cited at Turkey Point 3 by the NRC involves one of the most critical safety functions in a nuclear facility. That is, failure to prevent fission in the 1,200 fuel assemblies in the spent fuel pool would cause them to heat up, just as they would in the operating reactor. If that happened, the water covering the fuel rods would boil away. That would allow the exposed fuel rods to reach “critical mass” and erupt in a nuclear fire and meltdown releasing far more lethal radiation than an actual nuclear explosion.

…both NRC and FP&L officials assert that there was never any danger to the public of possible loss of control of the spent fuel pool.”

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