News Feature | July 17, 2017

Florida Nuclear Expansion Approved Despite Water Concerns

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

Federal regulators signed off on a plan for a nuclear proposal in Florida to pump wastewater underground despite concerns the facility could contaminate drinking water.

Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) “has cleared another hurdle in the licensing process to build two nuclear power reactors at Turkey Point,” the Miami Herald reported.

The decision by the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board means the company is a "step closer" to obtaining a license for adding two new reactors, the report said.

An independent board of the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission ruled in July “that the risk of contaminating drinking water from a plan to pump wastewater deep underground would be small. The ruling determined that it is unlikely water from the cooling systems for the proposed reactors would migrate upward, and the concentration of the four contaminants of concern would fall below the federal standards for drinking water,” the report said.

Concerns about water pollution had prompted a water utility in the Florida Keys to sound off against expansion at Turkey Point. The Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority lobbied federal regulators against FPL application to expand its Turkey Point nuclear plant by adding two new units, according to WGCU, an NPR-member radio station.

The aqueduct authority, a drinking water and wastewater servicer, has around 50,000 customers. FPL has around 4.8 million customers in the state. It is the largest rate-regulated electric utility in Florida.

Environmental groups are wary of the FPL's proposal to pump wastewater underground.

“Groups challenging the ruling, including the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and the National Parks Conservation Association, argued that the wastewater has the potential to migrate into the Upper Floridan Aquifer, a potential source of drinking water for South Florida that is tapped further upstate. Miami-Dade gets most of its drinking water from the shallower Biscayne Aquifer,” the Miami Herald reported.

For similar stories visit Water Online’s Source Water Contamination Solutions Center.