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By Laura Reynolds, Consultant for Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

FPL wants to operate Turkey Point Units 3 & 4 until 2053 - for another 20 years beyond the current license expiration 

On May 31 the Nuclear Regulatory Commission held two scoping meetings at the City of Homestead City Hall followed by a public comment period that ended on June 21. FPL submitted a Subsequent License Renewal application(SLRA) that, if approved, would extend the operational lifetime of Turkey Point Units 3 & 4 to July 2052, and April 10, 2053 respectively, an unprecedented 80 years. FPL is the first utility in the country to apply for such a license extension.  

Ocean Reef residents, representatives from the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority, Monroe and Dade County, as well as many citizens, farmers and environmental groups were in attendance in opposition. Comments supporting the application were mostly from employees of FPL who were worried about losing their jobs if the extension was not granted. The overarching message from the audience was not to shut down the plant, but to bring it up-to-date in terms of the cooling technology being used, such as installing cooling towers. Almost all of the speakers raised the issue of the failing cooling canal system and how its continued use in the face of sea-level rise and water quality concerns for the National Parks was a nonstarter. It was suggested that the NRC require new cooling technology as a condition to relicensing in addition to compliance with all pending enforcement and permits that govern the plant. Southern Alliance for Clean Energy agrees with a conditioned approach to relicensing and submitted comments along with the other Clean Water Act Plaintiffs. FKAA, Miami Dade DERM and Ocean Reef submitted comment letters.

Some of the major concerns over FPL’s plan to operate Turkey Point for 80 years include:

·         SAFETY:There has never been a license extended in the U.S. for a nuclear facility for the length that FPL is requesting. These reactors are old and brittle and long-term degradation issues pose safety risks.  

·         TECHNOLOGY UPGRADE:If FPL wants to run Turkey Point for decades longer, they should use current technology, such as cooling towers, to ensure an actual closed loop system is in place, including the use of reuse water from Miami-Dade County. This will require less water and protect our water resources from nutrient pollution and other contaminants.

·         WATER QUALITY:FPL plans to continue operating the failing cooling canal system as is, despite the fact that it is known to be polluting Biscayne Bay and threatening our region’s drinking water and exacerbating salt water intrusion. FPL should be made to correct these permit violations before any license extension is even considered.

·         SEA-LEVEL RISE:  The cooling canal system operates basically at sea level and was over topped in several places by IRMA. We know storms will only get worse and that the sea is rising, cooling towers can help the facility be more resilient to a changing climate.

Currently the deadline for intervening in this process before the NRC is July 2, though several parties have filed for an extension to be able to legally challenge the permit.  If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact me, Laura Reynolds, at lreynolds@conservationconceptsllc.org or 786-543-1926.

Please consider making a donation earmarked “FPL/Turkey Point” to continue to hold FPL accountable by requiring an update to the cooling technology at Turkey Point and doing more to protect our valuable natural resources:

  • 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.

  • Founded in 1947, Tropical Audubon Society works to conserve and restore natural South Florida ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife and their habitats through advocacy and education for the benefit of biological diversity and humanity itself. 

Learn more at www.tropicalaudubon.org.

  • Founded in 1969, Friends of the Everglades compels government agencies to comply with existing environmental laws, encourages politicians to recognize the long consequences of their actions and spreads awareness of the importance of the Everglades to the South Florida ecosystem.

Learn more at www.everglades.org.

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