Legal Challenge of Federal Licensing Launched Over FPL’s Proposal to Operate Turkey Point Nuclear Plant for Decades Longer

Clean Energy Organization Cites Polluting of Biscayne Bay, Threats to South Florida's Drinking Water Supply

August 2, 2018
Contact: Contact: Jennifer Rennicks, SACE, 865-235-1448, [email protected]

Miami, Fla. (August 2, 2018) The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), a clean energy advocacy group, filed a petition for a hearing with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) challenging Florida Power & Light’s (FPL) plans to operate its two currently-operating 1970s-era nuclear reactors at Turkey Point for another 20 years beyond the current license expiration of 2033. FPL is the first utility in the country to submit a Subsequent License Renewal Application (SLRA). If approved, FPL could operate the nuclear reactors for an unprecedented total of 80 years, until 2053. Find FPLs application here.

SACE’s petition outlines concerns about FPLs plan to continue operating the failing cooling canal system that is polluting Biscayne Bay and threatening South Florida’s drinking water aquifer. SACE argues that if FPL wants to run Turkey Point for decades longer, the utility should be required to use current technology, such as cooling towers, to protect drinking water resources, neighboring Biscayne National Park and ongoing Everglades restoration efforts.

“We are challenging FPLs proposal to run Turkey Point for far longer than anticipated because the facility is not being properly managed. This open industrial sewer is polluting Biscayne Bay and putting critical drinking water supplies at risk today – this unacceptable status quo cannot continue into the 2050s,” said Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “Thankfully there are attainable solutions that can correct this FPL-created mess and its long-past time for FPL to do what’s right, fix these wrongs and move on.”

SACE is not alone in their concerns over Turkey Point’s failing cooling canal system operating for decades longer. Recently numerous entities, including Miami-Dade County, Monroe County, Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority (FKAA) and the National Park Service, among others, filed environmental scoping comments regarding FPL’s application with the NRC about the threats an additional 20 years of operation at Turkey Point poses to Everglades and Biscayne National Parks and surrounding communities. Those comments are now being considered by the NRC as they develop the draft Environmental Impact Statement.

“It is irresponsible for the NRC to consider allowing Turkey Point to operate another 20 years without first requiring a complete and full compliance with all permits and pending enforcement against FPL,” said Laura Reynolds, environmental consultant to SACE. “We can no longer just trust FPL to do the right thing, they continue to make predictions and claims that have been wrong time and time again. It is time for a comprehensive fix that stops the source of pollution and protects our water supply and National Parks.”

SACE’s petition for hearing filed Wednesday included two contentions. First, SACE contends that FPL’s Environmental Report has an inadequate discussion of the environmental impacts of the cooling canals. FPL violates the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and NRC implementing regulation by ignoring or underestimating the environmental impacts to the surrounding water resources by continuing to use the cooling canal system for cooling the Turkey Point Units 3 and 4 reactors.

SACE’s second contention focuses on FPL’s failure to consider the alternative of replacing the cooling canals with mechanical draft cooling towers. SACE argues that the cooling tower alternative should be considered because it is feasible and cost-effective and because it would completely eliminate FPL’s need to rely on the cooling canal system.

Diane Curran, attorney for SACE in the proceeding, said, “Federal environmental law prohibits FPL from continuing to pollute Biscayne Bay and the drinking water supply for another 20 years when a feasible and cost-effective alternative is available to avoid those impacts. SACE intends to use that federal law to push for a solution that will protect public drinking water and the environment.”

Curran said the group expected a ruling on their hearing request sometime in the fall. If granted, a hearing would take place in 2019 or 2020.

Additional information:

Find SACE’s petition for hearing to the NRC filed August 1, 2018 here.