Proposed cooling technologies can help stop contamination from polluting Biscayne National Park and South Florida’s drinking water
Contact: Jennifer Rennicks, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, 865-235-1448, [email protected]
Listen to the tele press conference for this report release here.
Miami, Fla. (July 28, 2016) – Today the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) released a new report by an expert with over thirty years of engineering experience that assesses the feasibility of using cooling towers as the solution to replacing the antiquated, leaking cooling canal system at FPL’s Turkey Point power facility that has threatened South Florida’s drinking water and nearby Biscayne National Park. The report release comes on the heels of a citizen lawsuit filed by the SACE and Tropical Audubon Society (TAS), to be joined by Friends of the Everglades, against the utility under the Clean Water Act (CWA) after an extensive review of evidence documenting pollution discharges from the failed cooling canal system into Florida surface and ground waters.
SACE contracted with engineering expert Bill Powers of Powers Engineering to determine if any technologies or retrofits currently exist that FPL could implement to remedy some of the problems caused by reliance on the failing cooling canal system, a massive system that is two miles wide by five miles long and the only one of its type in the world. Mr. Powers and representatives from SACE addressed the findings of this study during a teleconference today. The in-depth report recommends building mechanical draft cooling towers as an affordable, practical solution for the existing, water-intensive Turkey Point nuclear reactor Units 3 and 4 (located near Homestead, about 25 miles south of downtown Miami).
“Not only do we believe that FPL has repeatedly violated the Clean Water Act by operating what is essentially an open industrial sewer leading to historic and ongoing discharges to the surface waters of Biscayne Bay, but we also determined that FPL’s ‘proposed remedies’ are ineffective and will not protect public health, the environment and the outstanding waters of Biscayne National Park,” said Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “We took the time and resources to research what could be done to actually fix the source of the problem. This report provides solutions that FPL needs to take now to address the ongoing pollution that will allow them to repair the damage that has been done by not adding to the mess they have already made. Failing to finally fix the underlying problem will only lead to throwing good money after bad.”
The report finds that mechanical draft cooling towers can be constructed in a timely manner, has been done successfully at other power plants, including nuclear plants, and can be built affordably making this potential solution both feasible and cost-effective even if the cooling towers only operate for a few as ten years through the current 2032 and 2033 operating licenses.
“Use of mechanical draft closed-cycle cooling towers on Turkey Point Units 3 and 4, combined with the elimination of cooling tower wastewater discharges, represents the best available technology for eliminating the water quality problems being caused by the cooling canal system,” said Bill Powers of Powers Engineering, author of the new report. “The cooling towers can be operational in less than 5 years from the time FPL submits the application to build the towers. And the cost to install the cooling towers, even if they are only operated for 10-12 years, would have a minimal impact on FPL customer energy charges, in the range of 2 percent or less.”
The report mentions that these proposed cooling towers would work well within the power plant’s existing site plan and wouldn’t compete with FPL’s proposed new reactors nor impact existing facilities on-site. Unit 5, which is a natural gas plant, already uses mechanical draft cooling towers. The report also finds that by installing a working cooling system, unlike the failing cooling canal system, FPL would be able to increase power production at Units 3 and 4.
As an additional benefit, installation of the cooling tower would eliminate the need for FPL to pump 100 million gallons of fresh water daily from the L-31E canal, which is currently being tapped in order to lower the temperature of the water in the failing canal system. Miami-Dade County has already acknowledged that continued long-term use of the cooling canal system is untenable. A recent resolution was passed supporting the County Mayor in efforts to seek a commitment from FPL to discontinue use of the cooling canal system at the Turkey Point Power Plant.
Contaminated water leaking from FPL’s failing cooling canal system at Turkey Point is polluting the Biscayne Aquifer, a sole source aquifer that provides drinking water to more than 3 million people in the region and to the neighboring Biscayne National Park. There is also clear evidence of contamination of the surface waters of Biscayne National Park caused by discharges from the cooling canal system.
“This solution not only removes all interaction with the Biscayne aquifer it provides a solution to the mandate Miami-Dade County is under to construct a reuse project to recycle 117.5 million gallons of water a day by 2025, this is a win-win for Miami-Dade county residents and an investment we can all get behind,” said Laura Reynolds, consultant for SACE and former executive director of Tropical Audubon. “FPL has said publicly this solution is too expensive and not feasible because the life of the plant is uncertain beyond 2032. The findings of this report refute those claims and offer many benefits to this area and the nearby communities and municipalities.”
Founded in 1985, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy 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.