Group contends that Florida Power & Light is running an experimental reactor in a weak regulatory environment
Contact: Jennifer Rennicks, Director of Policy & Communications, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, 865-235-1448
Tampa, Fla. (March 10, 2014) ///PRESS STATEMENT/// The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) filed petitions today with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) over safety concerns with Florida Power & Light’s (FPL) St. Lucie Unit 2 reactor located near Ft. Pierce, Florida. The organization’s stay motion and hearing request urge federal regulators to conduct a complete investigation of the process FPL used to modify a critical component of the nuclear reactor. These legal documents were supported by an expert witness declaration submitted by nuclear engineering expert Arnie Gundersen with Fairewinds Associates.
Industry monitoring data confirm that St. Lucie Unit 2 reactor has the most damaged steam generator tubes of any operating reactor in the country according to NRC documents and recent media reports. Additionally, there are growing concerns that FPL is further stressing the already-damaged steam generator tubes by intentionally increasing the power rating of the reactor. SACE requests that NRC conduct a public hearing on how and why FPL modified the St. Lucie Unit 2 reactor when it replaced the reactor’s steam generators. Court filings reveal and SACE has documented that FPL misled the public and likely the regulators about the extensive changes made during the replacement, thereby placing the reactor outside of the safety requirements needed for operation. SACE has requested the NRC not allow FPL to return the reactor to service until a public hearing is held and a proper safety review is performed.
Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, issued this statement in conjunction with today’s legal filings:
“As we stated last month when this issue first came to light, safety is our first concern. The most important consideration must be the health and safety of the more than one million people that live within a 50-mile radius of the St. Lucie Unit 2 reactor. We have reason to believe there is a clear and present danger given that Florida Power & Light is essentially running Unit 2 as an experimental reactor with the modifications it has made.
We also have grave concerns about the lack of proper regulatory oversight in this case. Florida Power & Light has misled the public by failing to properly document the modifications they have made to St. Lucie Unit 2. The fact that the NRC now knows about these modifications, but has yet to hold proper hearings, and is standing by while Florida Power & Light continues to damage the reactor without conducting a thorough analysis of the root cause of the issue is highly problematic.
Finally, we remain concerned that Florida ratepayers will continue to pay a high price for poor decisions made by Florida Power & Light. The utility changed the reactor design of St. Lucie Unit 2, misled the public about these changes and continues damaging a key component within the reactor during every fuel cycle. Even more concerning is the fact that Florida Power & Light used early cost recovery funds to ‘up-rate’ these reactor modifications secure in the knowledge there was no financial risk to their shareholders because the Florida Public Service Commission will likely approve any costs associated with repair or replacement at ratepayer expense.”
Founded in 1985, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is a nonprofit organization that promotes responsible energy choices that create global warming solutions and ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast. Learn more at www.cleanenergy.org