For more than six years, the Everglades Law Center has been challenging Florida Power & Light’s (FPL) plans to expand the Turkey Point nuclear facility & we need your help!
The Florida Power & Light (FPL) Turkey Point Power Plant is located along the shores of Biscayne National Park, America’s largest marine national park. The plant’s current operations already threaten the health of Biscayne National Park and surrounding waterways, with hypersaline, nutrient-laden water from its antiquated cooling canal system. Now, FPL proposes to expand Turkey Point by adding two new, extremely expensive and water-intensive nuclear reactor units, which would make it one of the largest nuclear power facilities in the country. Operating the two new reactors, Units 6 & 7, could compound Turkey Point’s existing water quality problems, as wastewater injected underground from the new reactors could potentially migrate upwards and contaminate the Upper Floridan Aquifer. The proposed expansion threatens our national parks, endangered wildlife, Everglades restoration, and the health of our groundwater resources.
Turkey Point is located between Everglades and Biscayne National Parks. These national parks not only protect important and fragile ecosystems but also are critical drivers of the local economy, supporting recreation, tourism, and other economic activities. According to the standards of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the agency responsible for overseeing the expansion, “sites adjacent to lands devoted to public use may be considered unsuitable,” and unacceptable impacts are “most apt to arise in areas adjacent to natural-resource oriented areas.” According to the NRC’s own standards, Turkey Point should not be expanded because of its possible harmful impacts to the ecological health of surrounding protected areas.
Why It Matters:
The two new reactors could harm the quantity and quality of our limited freshwater resources, which are critical to ensuring the future of our environment and our communities. The expansion could usurp water needed for future Everglades restoration projects, whose goals are to increase water flow needed to restore degraded wetland ecosystems. FPL must be required to resolve the water use conflict with the protection of Biscayne National Park and ensure that their current and future activities don’t threaten South Florida’s groundwater.
South Florida is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including storm surge and sea-level rise. Expanding a nuclear power plant in an area that is ground zero for sea-level rise threatens our communities and the environment, especially since large amounts of highly radioactive, long-lived spent nuclear fuel are already stored on-site, with even more produced if the new reactors are ever built and become operational. Therefore, plans to expand the plant must account for the full range of sea-level rise impacts over the predicted 60-year life span of the plant.
What We are Doing:
In order to protect our national parks and the surrounding communities from the potentially damaging impacts of Turkey Point’s proposed expansion, we are challenging this unnecessary, risky plan on several fronts. The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), and other individuals represented by the Everglades Law Center (ELC) and the Turner Environmental Law Clinic at Emory University have intervened in the federal licensing proceedings for this expansion before the NRC’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB). We contend that this proposal fails to comply with federal environmental laws. After nearly six years of targeted advocacy, legal engagement, and outreach to government agencies, public officials, and concerned citizens, our case remains active and compelling.
Recently, FPL sought an expedited ruling to allow them to use injection wells to dispose of polluted wastewater from the proposed reactors into deep injection wells near Biscayne Bay and National Park. In light of our legal arguments earlier this year, the ASLB denied FPL’s motion for the third time. While the ASLB has not yet ruled on the feasibility of the wells, the case is ongoing and will move to an “evidentiary hearing” to determine whether FPL’s plan to dispose their wastewater underground could contaminate the Upper Floridan Aquifer.
How You Can Help:
While the decision to hold an evidentiary hearing is not unprecedented, it is exceedingly rare in these instances and underscores the strength of our case and represents a major victory! If we are successful, we have the opportunity to ensure that FPL and the NRC reevaluate this proposal, perform a comprehensive analysis of the geological conditions and potential impacts, and strengthen environmental safeguards that will better protect our water resources.
The Everglades Law Center has brought this case to a critical juncture and we are prepared to carry it to its successful conclusion. We hope you will support us. Your investment will help ensure that the incredible freshwater resources upon which our Florida communities and ecosystems depend will be protected. Please visit www.evergladeslaw.org/support to donate today.