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Spill contained, power plant says

A spill of radioactive water during refueling operations at the Turkey Point nuclear power plant was contained, and there was no contamination of the environment, officials said Monday.

The inch-deep spill of slightly radioactive water Sunday covered a 225-square-foot floor of an auxiliary building. The water was pumped into a holding tank and there was no release of radiation into the environment, Florida Power & Light Co. said in a statement Monday.

"The event itself was relatively minor," said Ken Clark, spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's regional office in Atlanta. "The water was contained in the area it was designed to go."

Clark said the spill into the concrete walled room, designed for such an accident, was caused by personnel error.

An improperly opened valve on a line running from a reactor waste storage tank leaked while the line was being drained for testing, said Clark.

"It's a fairly routine operating problem," said Clark, adding that the plant's resident NRC inspector had been notified by the company. "It appears at this point it was not a violation of their technical specifications."

Clark said no workers were injured and there were no indications any radiation escaped from the building. The four NRC inspectors at the plant will look into the accident and review the company's handling of the spill, he said.

Meanwhile, the plant's four reactors remain shut down as officials try to map out a working evacuation plan that accommodates hurricane victims in south Dade County. One reactor was restarted, but was shut down until the plan, required by law, details how the utility and local authorities would evacuate people in case of a nuclear accident.

Environmental groups including the Sierra Club and the Everglades Coalition have condemned the restart of the plant as premature.