The Nuclear Regulatory Commission undertook a special inspection at Florida Power & Light’s Turkey Point nuclear power plant to assess the failure of a safety-related electrical bus that resulted in the plant declaring an alert.

The plant is located near Homestead, Fla., about 25 miles south of Miami.

An electrical fault occurred in a switchgear room, resulting in the loss of a safety related electrical bus — similar to a circuit breaker —  and a reactor trip. Other safety systems functioned as required, ensuring adequate reactor cooling. There was no threat to local residents or the environment, and the alert, the second-lowest NRC emergency declaration, was terminated later that same day.

The electrical fault, which caused an arc flash, or small explosion, also damaged a nearby fire door, which may have left other safety systems vulnerable had there been a fire. A plant worker who was in the room was injured and was treated at a local hospital.

Said the NRC: “This was an event that could have had serious safety consequences and we need to know more about what happened and why. We felt a special inspection was warranted to gather more information and also determine if there are generic issues that may apply to other plants.”

Said the utility: “This was an electrical spark that occurred on the non-nuclear side of the power plant. Public safety was not compromised.”

A three-member special inspection team was headed by a senior reactor inspector from the NRC’s Region II office in Atlanta. The team developed a detailed timeline of the event, reviewed the plant response and operator actions as well as the design and operation of the fire protection features associated with the switchgear room. It also reviewed the plant’s fire brigade and emergency preparedness response and assess FPL’s actions to determine the root cause of the event.

Source: Palm Beach Post