The record-breaking Hurricane Irma moves toward Florida, forecasted to reach its coasts as early as Saturday. Right in its estimated path stand two nuclear power plants—Turkey Point and St. Lucie.
Both plants sit right on the coast where the strongest-on-record Atlantic hurricane is expected to hit.
This, however, is not the first hurricane the plants have weathered.
In 1992, Turkey Point withstood Hurricane Andrew, a Category 4 storm and one of the strongest the country has experienced seen. The plant sustained $90 million in damages and had to run on backup generators for more than five days. Its access road was blocked, communication systems shut down, and fire protection system damaged. The exhaust stack of one of its oil-powered units cracked.
Yet the reactors, shielded by six feet of steel-reinforced concrete and 20 feet above ocean level, remained unscathed. No radioactive material leaked, according to the Federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The St. Lucie plant, located further north along the eastern coast, has also weathered powerful storms, like Frances in 2004 and Wilma the year after. But none of them have been quite as powerful as Irma is expected to be.