Miami, Fla. – The future of new nuclear reactors in Florida hit another stumbling block as concerned citizens and public interest organizations in Florida had a significant, initial victory in their legal effort to prevent two more costly new nuclear reactors from being built at Florida Power & Light’s existing Turkey Point plant adjacent to Biscayne Bay, Biscayne National Park and the Everglades, about 25 miles from Miami. There is a state-managed aquatic preserve, an expansive wetlands habitat preserve, two national parks and one national wildlife refuge within six miles of the proposed site. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s three-judge panel recently admitted some of the groups’ arguments but rejected many other serious environmental and public health issues the expansion poses.
“One would be hard pressed to find a less compatible and more ecologically sensitive location in which to expand a nuclear power plant than at Turkey Point,” said Jason Totoiu, the Everglades Law Center’s General Counsel. “We are pleased the Board agreed with some of our arguments but their decision unfortunately overlooks the very real potential that a number of significant environmental impacts could result from this project.”
The Everglades Law Center and Emory University School of Law’s Turner Environmental Law Clinic filed the petition in August 2010 on behalf of the National Parks Conservation Association, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and private citizens from Miami. The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) held a hearing in November in Homestead, Florida to hear the groups’ arguments.
At the November hearing, attorneys raised concerns about the impact the construction and operation of the proposed reactors could have on these imperiled places and communities located near the Turkey Point plant. The proposed use of millions of gallons of reclaimed water per day, that would otherwise be used for Everglades restoration, would come from the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department serving as the primary source of cooling water for the proposed new reactors. After use, FPL plans to discharge some of the reclaimed wastewater into the groundwater via underground injection wells. The ASLB admitted the organizations’ argument that Florida Power & Light’s (FPL) Environmental Report failed to adequately address the impacts that underground injection of various chemical contaminants would have on groundwater supplies.
“We are very concerned about the injected wastewater laced with chemical and radioactive contaminants getting into our precious and limited drinking water supplies,” said Mark Oncavage, a resident of Miami and intervenor. “FPL’s proposal could be disastrous for the area.”
“The Boards ruling clearly recognizes that expanding Turkey Point would threaten the health of our citizens and national treasure Biscayne National Park,” said Kahlil Kettering, Biscayne Restoration Program Analyst for the National Parks Conservation Association and intervenor. “Biscayne already suffers from reduced freshwater flows and adjacent land development, adding an expanded nuclear power plant to the mix could send the park over the tipping point.”
The Board rejected other arguments, including FPL’s cursory treatment of the potential cumulative impacts of the project and FPL’s proposed plans to use radial collector wells underneath Biscayne Bay that could withdraw much needed fresh water from the system. Also rejected were concerns over the loss of several hundreds of acres of wetlands to accommodate miles of new transmission lines. FPL’s failure to fully evaluate other viable energy alternatives including energy efficiency and conservation along with renewable energy options and lack of planning for future potential sea level rise that would adversely impact the operations of the facility were also rejected.
“The Board really got it wrong regarding climate change and sea level rise,” said Captain Dan Kipnis, resident of Miami Beach and intervenor. “With scientists predicting up to three feet of water rise during the plant’s operating life, the whole premise of FPL’s site location appears shaky at best. This is an unbelievably bad idea and bad location to build more nuclear reactors that have a $20 billion price tag.”
Given the recent devastating impacts caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and the damage to several nuclear reactors, this proposal reinforces concerns expressed by the organizations about the health risks and potential hazards that would be associated with expanding Turkey Point.
“The reality is that clean, safe energy options are available that won’t pose these serious risks to the community and the pocketbooks of hard-working Floridians,” said Sara Barczak, high risk energy choices program director with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “FPL has a long, long way to go, especially now in light of the disaster unfolding in Japan, and would serve their customers well by moving away from such a flawed proposal.”
Citizens Allied for Safe Energy, Inc. (CASE, Inc.) and the Village of Pinecrest filed separate petitions. The Board granted legal standing for both parties and accepted part of two contentions submitted by CASE, Inc. that deal with the storage and management on-site of so-called low level radioactive waste.
For more information on the intervening organizations and legal counsel, visit:
Everglades Law Center, www.evergladeslaw.org * National Parks Conservation Association- Sun Coast Regional Office, www.npca.org/southflorida * Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, www.cleanenergy.org * Emory University School of Law’s Turner Environmental Law Clinic, www.law.emory.edu/academics/academic-programs/environmental-law/turner-clinic.html
Download the August 17, 2010 petition at http://www.cleanenergy.org/index.php?/Testimony.html and the recent ASLB decision at http://www.cleanenergy.org/images/testimony/2011-02-28_TP_ASLBOrderContentionAdmissibility.pdf.