FPL to Add Nuclear Reactors? Today is Last Day to Comment

Turkey Point
Turkey Point
Photo by NPCA/Flickr CC

Friday is the last day for the public to comment on Florida Power & Light's proposal to build two new nuclear reactors at its Turkey Point facility, near Homestead, which powers all of South Florida. Turkey Point already has five power-generating units: two nuclear, two powered by oil and gas, and one combined-cycle.  

The proposed reactors would cost $20 billion to build and would power 750,000 homes. FPL has already collected $209 million from its customers toward the building cost.  FPL first submitted its application for federal approval of the reactors in 2009.  An environmental impact statement has been completed, and Gov. Rick Scott and his cabinet gave their approval in May 2014. The next step is the U.S. National Regulatory Commission, which regulates power plants. (Here is schedule of the approval process.)  The agency must consider any public comments received by this Friday, May 22.

Many people are formally opposed to building two new nuclear reactors on the coastal site, which is threatened by sea level rise, adjacent to two national parks, would use vast amounts of water, and require miles of new power lines.

Inside a nuclear reactor, uranium atoms are split, creating heat. Pipes carry water in a closed-loop system from the core of the reactor to a steam generator. Steam is then directed to a turbine that creates energy. (Here is a more detailed explainer.)  Reactors get very hot and need large amounts of water for cooling. FPL's two proposed reactors would use sewage and wastewater as the primary coolant, but fresh water from aquifers as a secondary source. 

Several Miami-Dade mayors are against the new reactors for many reasons, as they wrote in a Miami Herald editorial, but largely because the backup cooling system will use 10 percent of South Florida's fresh water — "7 billion gallons of water a year from Biscayne Bay and the Biscayne Aquifer, our only source of drinking water." 

The environmental group South Florida Wildlands is against the reactors, having said that "Two of South Florida's most important public lands and wildlife habitats - Biscayne and Everglades National Parks - will be put at risk and be forever changed by a project of this scale."

The plan requires three new sets of powerlines — two of them 15 stories tall — which has also angered south Miami-Dade residents who fear their property values will plunge. 

Not to mention that sea level rise threatens the site (It was down for five days during Hurricane Andrew) and that prior accidents at Three Mile Island, Fukushima, and Chernobyl were scary enough. 

Meanwhile, people keep moving to Floirda, and FPL is required by law to create power for residents, and at affordable rates. The utility insists its power generators are safe. 

People can submit comments to the NRC via email — turkeypoint.coleis@nrc.govor online. 

Anyone concerned about nuclear power might also want to check out Fairewinds Energy Education, which keeps a watchful eye on nuke plants and regulators — like letting us know when supervisors at Turkey Point test positive for illegal drugs


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