A disturbance on Florida’s power grid caused two nuclear power reactors at the Turkey Point power station to undergo an unscheduled shut down today. Up to six other non-nuclear power plants were shut down as well. Despite the failure having nothing to do with any malfunctions at any of Florida’s nuclear power stations (it was a small fire and a switch failure at an electrical substation near Miami that caused the disturbance), this incident will undoubted be cast by some as validating the inherent danger of nuclear power.
The Heritage Foundation’s Jack Spencer counters that perception: “In reality the Florida outage demonstrates the safety of nuclear power and the professionalism of those who operate and oversee nuclear power plants.” The safety mechanisms on both units worked as designed yesterday by automatically shutting down as soon as a problem was detected. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission began investigating the shut down almost as soon as it occurred. Had it been a problem with the plant, it would have been identified and addressed. As it turns out, the problem had nothing to do with the plant. Turkey Point should be up and running again some time today providing power to 450,000 homes, although its operators could use the unplanned shut down as an opportunity to carry out some maintenance activities.
America’s 104 operating nuclear reactors, which provide the nation with 20 percent of its electricity, have an impeccable safety record. Even decades of anti-nuclear propaganda can not change the basic fact that not one person has ever died as a result of commercial nuclear power in the U.S. The quick response of both the technology and personnel at Turkey Point demonstrates even further that nuclear energy is a safe option for the United States.