Turkey Point nuclear power plant raises environmental concerns

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – A solution to one problem may have created another problem at the Turkey Point nuclear power plant. Monday at a hearing, the question was whether anyone considered the environmental impact of pollution coming from the plant's heated-up cooling canals.

If the cooling canal waters reach 104 degrees, Turkey Point has to shut down the nuclear reactors. A maximum temperature was imposed two hot and dry summers ago.

"We know that (Florida Power & Light) has to pump water to reduce salinity pursuant to the state's order," administrative Judge Michael Gibson said.

At issue for the panel of judges Monday was whether the fix cooled Turkey Points canals and rid its algae blooms, salt-content and pollution, or merely moved it all into the public waters of Biscayne Bay the ground waters from which South Florida drinks

"The increase in the temperature would not cause increased salinity to the point that it would threaten nearby aquifers," U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Joey Ledford said.

But environmental groups have science and data that show otherwise. Opponents contend the fresh water Turkey Point pumps into its closed system to cool and clean it pushes its contaminants into public domain.

"All that pollution is now showing up in the National Park, in the surface water, and they've even shut down well fields to the west," Laura Reynolds of the Tropical Audubon Society said.

Turkey Point operator Florida Power and Light argues that pollution and saltwater intrusion is not new, nor solely its doing.

Bianca Cruz said FPL isn't agreeing that there's a problem in the bay.

"No, what we are agreeing to is to sign on to be part of the solution that, as a result of our operations and also land mining and water excavation, may have exacerbated this salt water intrusion that is occurring," Cruz said.

The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board is taking written statements submitted no later than Friday.

About the Author: