MIAMI - Florida's largest utility shut down a nuclear reactor south of Miami Tuesday, causing sporadic power outages affecting more than 3 million people across the southern end of the state.
Authorities did not specify the cause of the shutdown but said there were no safety concern.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said that the two Florida Power & Light nuclear reactors at its Turkey Point power point 30 miles south of Miami automatically shut down. Two other power plants farther north — the Crystal River reactor and St. Lucie twin reactors — in the state continued to operate, although officials at those two facilities noticed the grid disturbance.
Kenneth Clark, a spokesman at the NRC regional office in Atlanta, said the two reactors were automatically shut down and in safe standby.
He estimated that power should be up statewide within 10 hours.
The outages trapped people in elevators, caused traffic accidents and prompted hospitals to rely on backup electricity shortly after 1 p.m..
Jaime Hernandez, a spokesman for Miami-Dade County Department of Emergency Management, said the county had partially activated its emergency operations center. No injuries were reported, he said.
Cascading outages appeared to be concentrated in the southeast, including areas of Miami, Doral, Westchester and Pembroke Pines.
Police officers directed traffic at intersections in downtown Miami, but many drivers were left to negotiate the jams on their own. Many stop lights were not working and some stores closed for the day.
UPDATE I - Blue Girl
Deb-TUD, the Florida correspondent at our sister blog, Watching Those We Chose, is following the story, and putting todays special election in context.