Jun. 28, 2005


TURKEY POINT

Plant's nuclear reactor is shut down after blaze

A fire at Turkey Point knocked a nuclear reactor off-line, but FPL said the incident was quickly contained and customers will not be affected.

BY LUISA YANEZ

lyanez@herald.com


One of two nuclear reactors at the Turkey Point power plant in south Miami-Dade remains off-line today as federal investigators try to pinpoint why a transformer burst into flames early Monday.

The blaze, which broke out about 3:15 a.m., never endangered the plant's fortressed reactors or their radioactive cores, said Bill Swank, spokesman for Florida Power & Light, which owns the plant.

''The fire was outside the containment building and nowhere near the nuclear units,'' Swank said.

Inspectors from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission are at the plant trying to determine what caused the fire, said Roger Hannah, spokesman for the agency's regional office in Atlanta.

The federal agency said FPL followed all required procedures, and quickly reported the incident to the NRC. Swank said state officials were also notified Monday.

Swank said it's unclear what sparked the blaze, the first to shut down one of the power plant's 30-year-old reactors in recent memory. The extent of damage also has to be determined.

MINERAL OIL LEAK

The cause may have been a mineral oil leak, he said. The oil is used as a coolant in the transformer that serves Unit 4, which was turned off automatically when the blaze broke out.

Gallons of mineral oil spilled out onto the ground.

''We are not sure yet if a leak caused the fire or if the fire caused the leak,'' Swank said.

The power plant's sprinkler system doused the flames. Although the power plant has its own fire brigade, 10 Miami-Dade fire-rescue units rushed to the plant, ready for the worst-case scenario.

'When you hear on your radio, `Attention: Structure fire at Turkey Point,' it gives you pause,'' said Lt. Eric Baum, spokesman for Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue.

NO RADIATION

The units rolled into the far south power plant 16 minutes after they were dispatched with their department-issued radiation detection meters on, Baum said.

Turkey Point is on Biscayne Bay, 24 miles south of Miami and east of Homestead.

''It's for our own safety and that of the people who live near the plant,'' Baum said of using the meters, which detected no radiation problems.

''When we arrived, the fire was out, but mineral oil had spilled. We put down giant pads to absorb it,'' Baum said.

Luis Espinoza, a spokesman for the county's Department of Environmental Resources Management, said ''less than 50 gallons'' of mineral oil spilled and the ``environmental impact was minimal.''

As the investigation continues, it's unclear how long Unit 4 will be off-line, Swank said. But the utility's customers should not feel the impact, even in the middle of summer. Swank said the reactor provides only about 3.5 percent of the power plant's total 20,000-megawatt capacity.

''It's one small component of the entire system,'' he said.

POTENTIAL DISASTER

Paul Gunter, with the Nuclear Information and Resource Service in Washington, D.C., an industry watchdog group, said any fire near a nuclear reactor is dangerous and a potential disaster.

''Fire is a significant contributor to overall core damage,'' he said.

Gunter said it's the NRC's job to enforce safety rules that prevent such fires.

The last known transformer fire at a U.S. power plant occurred in June 2004 at Vermont Yankee. In that incident, the states of New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and local surrounding counties were immediately notified of the potential disaster. As in Monday's incident, no radiation escaped.

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Fire Extinguished at Florida Nuclear Plant

June 27, 2005 7:20 p.m. EST

Christina Ficara - All Headline News Staff Reporter

Miami, FL (AHN) - Florida Power and Light exstinguished a fire at the Turkey Point power plant preventing damage to the plant's two nuclear units.The plant's sprinkler system put out the fire, preventing any injuries.

The blaze started about 3:15 a.m. in a transformer in the plant's number four unit, an area that was not near the nuclear facilities, FPL spokesman Bill Swank reported. The company's power customers were not affected.The affected unit was taken offline while the cause of the fire was investigated. According to Swank, the extent of damage was not yet known.The nuclear facilities, located inside domes and protected by concrete barriers, were never endangered, Swank said.The fire caused a 30-to-40 gallon mineral oil leak. The oil, a coolant, was contained with no biohazard at the plant.

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Jun. 27, 2005

Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant fire extinguished


BY MICHAEL HIBBLEN

mhibblen@herald.com

A fire this morning at the Turkey Point nuclear power plant in South Miami-Dade County was quickly extinguished, with authorities now cleaning up.

Florida Power & Light spokesman Bill Swank said it started at about 3:15 a.m. at a transformer within the number four unit, which is one of two nuclear units at the site. But Swank said there was never any danger.

''It was nowhere near the nuclear facilities, they're all contained inside those domes, inside the concrete barriers. This was well outside that,'' Swank said. ``There was never any danger to the nuclear facility.''

Miami-Dade fire rescue says the plant's sprinkler system was able to put out the fire within 15 to 20 minutes. But it did cause a spill of mineral oil, which is used as a coolant. The oil, which is not a biohazard, will be cleaned up throughout the day.

There was no immediate word on what caused the fire and Swank said they don't yet know the full extent of damage.

Unit number four was taken offline while officials investigate.

Swank said power to FPL customers was not affected.

Turkey Point is located on Biscayne Bay, 24 miles south of Miami and just east of Homestead.