No public comments allowed, amendments offered to strengthen agreement but uncertainty over effectiveness of cleanup and preventing further degradation of Biscayne Bay and aquifer remains
Contact: Jennifer Rennicks, SACE, [email protected], 865-235-1448
Miami, Fla. (April 11, 2018) – Late into Tuesday evening after extensive, confusing discussion, without allowing public comment, and despite the concerns of entities such as the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority and Monroe County, the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners approved a Joint Partnership Agreement with Florida Power and Light (FPL) regarding the utility’s polluting Turkey Point facility (item 11A3 on the agenda). Amendments from Commissioner Rebeca Sosa and Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava were offered that sought to strengthen the agreement, but the final outcome of each including the details and subsequent implications have yet to be determined.
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), a clean energy advocacy group, shared serious concerns numerous times about the agreement with the Commission. SACE argued that using reuse water lacking stringent water quality standards without a commitment to also close Turkey Point’s antiquated canal system and upgrade the cooling technology to cooling towers would substantially delay the cleanup at Turkey Point, resulting in long-term impacts on the region’s drinking water resource and the health of Biscayne Bay. SACE joined local organizations before Tuesday’s vote in demanding the inadequate agreement be strengthened before the County approves to prevent additional nutrients being flushed into the aquifer and the Bay.
“We appreciate the Commission’s attempt to strengthen the agreement with FPL, but the devil is in the details and we believe FPL was ultimately given yet another pass despite their track record of failure at Turkey Point. We remain concerned that a comprehensive solution to clean up the aquifer groundwater and Biscayne Bay from pollution caused by the FPL’s facility using the best technology was not approved,” said Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director of SACE. “Moving forward, especially as FPL seeks approval to extend the nuclear plant’s operating life for another 20 years, we implore the Commission to remain vigilant holding FPL’s feet to the fire. Commissioner Cava’s amendment would make it clear that the County is not tacitly supporting the relicensing of Turkey Point and that is step in the right direction.”
SACE contends that if the Joint Partnership Agreement was approved without a commitment to closing the cooling canals and installing cooling towers, the pollution plume will be exacerbated by the daily addition of tens of millions of gallons of treated municipal wastewater to Turkey Point’s canal system.
Dr. William Nuttle, a leading expert on coastal hydrology and ecosystem restoration, with over 25 years of experience working on projects in South Florida, said in a statement last week that the cleanup process could succeed in a much shorter time frame if key modifications are made. Dr. Nuttle’s analysis, which was shared with the Commission, demonstrated that if the canals were replaced by cooling towers, the timeframe for successful remediation will decrease by many decades. Without any changes, it will take over 60 years for FPL to completely retract the plume using recovery wells, while the utility claims 10 years. The cooling towers would use reclaimed reuse water, also providing a solution for the County’s mandate to stop dumping treated wastewater into the ocean by 2025. Dilution was not the solution FPL has committed to through the consent agreement and consent order.
“We applaud Commissioners Rebecca Sosa and Daniella Levine Cava for trying hard to include the strongest water quality standards possible and for attempting to be vigilant by requiring quarterly environmental reports and progress within one year to see if FPL can, in fact, halt the plume within the time frame they claim is achievable. The Commission must not give in to FPL pressure if the reporting doesn’t show real progress being made,” said Laura Reynolds, a longtime local environmental advocate and consultant for SACE. “Last minute changes and many misstatements made by FPL and the Mayor caused Daniella Levine Cava to withhold her vote until the full details about the water quality standards are finalized at the next Board meeting. Residents that love recreating and fishing in Biscayne Bay should demand that the Commissioners push hard on the water degradation issue. Those who came to the meeting today, about 25 local residents, that were not allowed to speak should know that there were some friendly voices on the Commission trying to address their concerns.”
SACE along with other local conservation groups have sent letters and information to the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners recommending ways to strengthen the Joint Partnership Agreement (JPA):
-March 1, 2018 Group Letter outlining concerns with the Agreement
-April 2, 2018 Group Letter outlining and responding to misstatements made at the March 8, 2018 Chairman’s Policy Committee meeting regarding the Agreement
-April 4, 2018 Dr. William Nuttle Letter with CV
-April 5, 2018 Monroe Co. Letter to Miami-Dade Mayor Giménez re: JPA
–Fact sheet on the cooling tower retrofit proposed for Turkey Point
Founded in 1985, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is a nonprofit organization that promotes responsible energy choices that work to address the impacts of Global Climate Change and ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast. Learn more at www.cleanenergy.org