Diverse Interests Challenge Federal Licensing

George Cavros | August 24, 2010 | Press Releases

Everglades Law Center * Southern Alliance for Clean Energy * National Parks Conservation AssociationCONTACT: Jason Totoiu, Everglades Law Center, 561.568.6740
Kahlil Kettering, National Parks Conservation Association, 954.961.1280 x202
Sara Barczak, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, 912.201.0354 Diverse Interests Challenge Federal Licensing of FPL’s Proposed New Turkey Point Nuclear Reactors: Utility’s plan poses great risks to public, environment and economy Miami, Fla. – Concerned citizens and organizations in Florida filed a request to intervene in proceedings before the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) over Florida Power & Light’s (FPL) costly proposal to build two additional nuclear reactors at their existing Turkey Point plant adjacent to Biscayne Bay and Biscayne National Park, about 25 miles from Miami. The organizations, including the National Parks Conservation Association and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, along with local citizens from the Miami area, raised their concerns about the serious environmental and public health issues this addition poses. The Everglades Law Center and Emory University School of Law’s Turner Environmental Law Clinic are representing the concerned parties.

“As stated in the petition we filed on behalf of our clients, one would be hard pressed to find a less compatible and more ecologically sensitive location in which to expand the operations of a nuclear power plant than Turkey Point,” said Jason Totoiu, staff attorney with the Everglades Law Center. “There is a state-managed aquatic preserve, an expansive wetlands habitat preserve, two national parks, and one national wildlife refuge within ten miles of the proposed site.”

The petition called upon the NRC to reject the proposal to build two new Toshiba-Westinghouse AP1000 reactors due to the effects it would have on communities located near the plant, various aquatic species, water supply and quality, and public health and safety.

“Biscayne National Park is already threatened by the existing nuclear plant, which diminishes the natural freshwater flows to the Park,” said Kahlil Kettering, Biscayne Restoration Program Analyst for the National Parks Conservation Association’s Sun Coast Regional Office. “Additional nuclear expansion would starve the Park of freshwater even further, directly impede the multi-dollar state and federal government investment in the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), and make ecological conditions worse for wildlife at Biscayne National Park.”

Additionally, the petition raised concerns over FPL’s need for power analysis and its failure to fully evaluate other viable energy alternatives including energy efficiency and conservation along with renewable energy options.

“Investing in new nuclear reactors with a price tag of nearly $20 billion is a risky, costly mistake that will only make South Florida communities more vulnerable,” said Sara Barczak, high risk energy choices program director with Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “An energy future built upon safe, affordable energy that provides good jobs while protecting the environment such as energy efficiency and conservation, wind, solar and bioenergy is a much wiser investment.”

Several contentions related to environmental impacts were raised. The petition challenged FPL’s proposed plans to use radial collector wells underneath Biscayne Bay that could withdraw much needed fresh water from the system, the proposed use of millions of gallons of reclaimed water per day that would otherwise be used for Everglades restoration, the loss of several hundreds of acres of wetlands to accommodate miles of new transmission lines, and the utilities lack of planning for future potential sea level rise that would adversely impact the operations of the facility. The petition also challenges FPL’s cursory treatment of the potential cumulative impacts of the proposed project stating, “In a place where in many ways, it is all about the water, FPL’s plan to expand its operations and consume even more water must be examined.”

“I am disgusted with FPL’s failure to address how Turkey Point will deal with climate change and sea level rise. Just a few more inches of ocean height will not only affect the facility but probably damage coastal communities and decrease their water supplies,” said Mark Oncavage, resident of Miami who joined the intervention. “Further, already struggling families and businesses here in South Florida will likely pay a lot more for electricity as these proposed reactors could trigger the biggest rate increases ever to hit FPL customers.”

Though FPL and Progress Energy of Florida are proposing to build a total of four new reactors in Florida, at combined costs of more than $40 billion, the intervening parties believe future energy demand in Florida should be met by aggressive energy efficiency, conservation and renewable energy measures. Such methods pose less risk to local communities and the sensitive South Florida environment and play an important role in reducing global warming pollution.

FPL submitted their licensing application to the NRC for a combined operating license (COL) in June 2009. The NRC is the federal licensing agency overseeing nuclear power plants. A COL is valid for 40 years and can be renewed for an additional 20 years.

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.htmlDownload the August 17, 2010 petition.Click here for more information on the Turkey Point licensing process.Click here for more information on proposed new nuclear reactors in Florida. # # #