Clean Energy Organization Cites Polluting of Biscayne Bay, Threats to South Florida’s Drinking Water Supply
Miami, Fla. (December 3, 2018) – Clean energy groups will go before a federal panel tomorrow in an effort to stop Florida Power & Light’s (FPL) plans to extend the life of its 1970s-era nuclear reactors at Turkey Point until 2053. Allowing the plant to run for an unprecedented 80 years poses risks to the Biscayne Bay and threatens South Florida’s drinking water supply.
The utility is the first in the nation to try to get its license, which originally lasted for 40 years, extended to last for 80 years. Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), a clean energy advocacy group, is challenging that application to a federal panel under the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
At Tuesday’s hearing the three administrative judges comprising the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) will consider SACE’s hearing request, which contests FPL’s plan to continue operating the reactors’ failing cooling canal system (CCS) that is polluting Biscayne Bay and threatening South Florida’s drinking water aquifer. SACE will argue that if FPL wants to run Turkey Point for decades longer, the utility should replace the outdated and environmentally damaging CCS with the current technology of mechanical draft cooling towers, already used at other FPL facilities on the Turkey Point site and previously approved for new reactors once proposed for the site. Only by using these closed-loop cooling systems can FPL protect drinking water resources, neighboring Biscayne National Park and Marine Sanctuary, and ongoing Everglades restoration efforts.
“We challenged FPL’s proposal to run Turkey Point for decades longer than anticipated because the plant is not being properly managed. This open industrial sewer is polluting Biscayne Bay and putting critical drinking water supplies at risk today – this cannot continue into the 2050s,” said Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “Fortunately there are practical solutions that can fix this FPL-created mess and it’s long-past time for FPL to right these wrongs and move on.”
What: The NRC’s ASLB will hold a hearing at 8:30 am ET, December 4, 2018 in Homestead, Florida to hear oral argument from organizations that legally challenged FPL’s plans to operate their two nuclear reactors at Turkey Point for another 20 years beyond the current license expiration of 2033. The public is encouraged to attend but no public comment is allowed. The ASLB is expected to make a decision in mid-January 2019.
When: Tuesday, December 4, 2018, 8:30am-4:00pm ET
Where: Homestead City Hall, 100 Civic Court, Homestead, Florida, 33030
Find SACE’s hearing request to the NRC filed August 1, 2018 here. SACE’s hearing request includes two contentions. First, SACE contends that FPL’s Environmental Report has an inadequate discussion of the environmental impacts of the cooling canals. FPL violates the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and NRC implementing regulation by ignoring or underestimating the environmental impacts to the surrounding water resources by continuing to use the cooling canal system for cooling the Turkey Point Units 3 and 4 reactors.
SACE’s second contention focuses on FPL’s failure to consider the alternative of replacing the cooling canals with mechanical draft cooling towers. SACE argues that the cooling tower alternative should be considered because it is feasible and cost-effective – and because it would completely eliminate FPL’s need to rely on the cooling canal system.
SACE is not alone in their concerns over Turkey Point’s failing cooling canal system operating for decades longer. Tuesday’s hearing will also consider the hearing request filed by joint petitioners Miami Waterkeeper, NRDC and Friends of the Earth, the hearing request of local Miami-Dade resident Albert Gomez, and Monroe County’s request to participate as an interested governmental participant.
Additionally, numerous entities, including Miami-Dade County, Monroe County, Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority (FKAA) and the National Park Service, among others, previously filed environmental scoping comments regarding FPL’s subsequent license renewal application with the NRC about the threats an additional 20 years of operation at Turkey Point poses to Everglades and Biscayne National Parks and surrounding communities. Those comments are now being considered by the NRC as they develop the draft Environmental Impact Statement.
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