Homestead, Fla. (March 30, 2011) – At a mock emergency evacuation followed by a press conference today, diverse local groups and citizens expressed their concerns about the public health, financial and environmental risks that Florida Power & Light’s (FPL) costly proposal to build two additional nuclear reactors imposes on South Florida residents. The concerns voiced included the inherent public health risk of nuclear reactors, a wholly inadequate evacuation plan, the staggering cost and financial risk of building the proposed reactors on FPL’s customers, and the negative impacts to local water resources and Biscayne National Park.
The meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear reactors is evidence of how quickly and far-reaching the radiation threat can move after an accident. “On the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and the ongoing nuclear tragedy in Japan, South Floridians should questions whether the construction of two new nuclear reactors in a densely populated area is the wisest energy choice,” said Matthew Schwartz of the South Florida Wildlands Association.
The current FEMA evacuation plan for the proposed reactors is based on only a 10 mile radius evacuation zone. “Surrounding communities from Ft. Lauderdale to the Keys are at great risk from FPL’s existing and proposed nuclear plants at Turkey Point,” said South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard, a director with Citizens Allied for Safe Energy. “The utmost concern is the serious deficiencies with the current evacuation plan should there be an accident. Families, children, our friends and neighbors could be stuck in a snarl of traffic as they are exposed to radiation.”
The project is expected to cost upwards of $20 billion. A 2006 state law change allows investor-owned utilities, such as FPL, to shift the risk of building the plant from FPL shareholders to FPL customers. Customers are financing the construction of the proposed Toshiba-Westinghouse AP-1000 reactors in advance and cannot recover their money, even if FPL abandons plans to build the reactors. It is not yet clear what the reactors’ bill impact will be on FPL’s customers, but a review of Progress Energy Florida’s rate impacts, which is proposing similar nuclear reactors in Levy County, reveals that its customers will be paying and extra $23.78/mo. in 3 years and steadily increasing to an extra $60+/mo. after 2021 just for the new nuclear reactors.
“It is unconscionable for FPL to place that kind of risk on its customers when the company could meet future demand through meaningful energy efficiency programs. Their current energy efficiency programs are weak relative to leading utilities in other states,” said George Cavros, with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
The organizations also voiced concern over FPL’s proposed plans to use radial collector wells beneath Biscayne Bay that would use 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 hundred acres of wetlands to accommodate miles of new transmission lines, lack of planning for future potential sea level rise that would adversely impact the operations of the facility, and methods for managing radioactive waste, among other important issues of concern.
“Water is the life-blood of South Florida. The Turkey Point reactors alone may use up to 124 MGD (Million Gallons per Day). By comparison Monroe County uses about 17 MGD. Removing this much water on a daily basis will not only alter the salinity of Biscayne Bay but it will accelerate saltwater intrusion that has already contaminated well fields that Miami-Dade and Monroe depend on,” said Laura Reynolds, Executive Director of the Tropical Audubon Society. “Allowing a private utility to profit without consideration of the competing interests with Everglades Restoration and our drinking water supply will adversely impact our economy.”
The population of the Miami-Dade’s metro area has grown considerably since the first reactors went online in the early 1970’s. “You cannot even drive out of Miami at normal rush hour, or with four days’ notice of an impending hurricane, let alone with almost no notice in the event of a radiological release. Canoes and kayaks, cruise ships, pleasure boats and naval vessels may be a necessary component of a meaningful evacuation plan,” argued Rhonda Roff who brought her kayak to participate in the mock emergency evacuation drill. The citizens and organizations at today’s event believe future energy demand should instead be met by meaningful energy efficiency implementation, conservation, and renewable energy technologies. These energy options pose less risk to local communities, water resources and the sensitive South Florida environment, while playing an important role in reducing global warming pollution and creating local clean energy jobs. Nuclear-free music was performed by Laura Sue Wilansky (http://www.silvernightingale.com/nuclearfree.html ), performing “No Nukes Swing” and leading group in protest songs; and Bob Welsh, aka Bicycle Bob, who performed “When the Turkey Points at You.”) # # # Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is a nonprofit organization that promotes responsible energy choices that create global warming solutionsand ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast.www.cleanenergy.org