(Reuters) - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said on Friday it has dispatched additional inspectors to the Turkey Point and St. Lucie nuclear plants in Florida in preparation for the effects of hurricane Irma on those sites.
Turkey Point was expected to close on Friday evening and St. Lucie is to shut about 12 hours later, depending on the storm's path. The nuclear plants are located along Florida's Atlantic Coast, about 20 feet (6 meters) above sea level.
The NRC inspectors are verifying that all of the preparations have been completed, and the plants' emergency diesel generators are available to be used if the storm affects off-site power supplies, the agency said in a statement.
The inspectors will remain at the nuclear plant sites and the incident response center will remain staffed until the agency is assured that the storm no longer poses a risk to these facilities, the agency said.
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The NRC expects to activate the regional incident response center in Atlanta, Georgia, on Saturday.
Electricity generator Florida Power & Light (FPL), a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Inc, generates enough power for about 1.9 million homes at the Turkey Point and St. Lucie plants.
Hurricane Irma is expected to hit Florida as a powerful Category 4 on Sunday.
It threatens to knock out power to more than 4.1 million homes and businesses served by FPL, affecting around nine million people based on the current storm track, the utility's chief executive said.
(Reporting by Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru; Editing by Sandra Maler)