Could this be the next environmental disaster?
The University of Miami has found that Florida’s largest power company, Florida Power and Light (FPL)’s Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant – one of the nations worst-placed nuclear power plants, located just south of Miami – is leaking elevated levels of ammonia, phosphorus and radioactive compounds including tritium, a radioactive isotope into the Biscayne Bay. This has caused a spike of 200-times higher than normal levels being detected. As a result, environmentalists have threatened to file a federal lawsuit against FPL for violating the Clean Water Act unless public concerns are addressed within the next two months.
Turkey Point sits on top of the Biscayne aquifer a 4,000 square foot aquifer that provides drinking water to over 3 million Miami residence.
About 330 million gallons of water per day are pumped from the Biscayne aquifer through wells descending an average of 80 feet below the ground surface, where the contaminated is being leaked.
“This is one of several things we were very worried about,” South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard, who is also a biological sciences professor at Florida International University, told the Miami New Times. “You would have to work hard to find a worse place to put a nuclear plant, right between two national parks and subject to hurricanes and storm surge.”
The new study blames the leaks on the reactor’s cooling canals, which were recently found to have caused a massive underground saltwater plume to migrate west into the drinking water supply for both Miami and The Keys.
“…It’s spreading for miles in every direction and it’s been doing that for years”, said Rachel Silverstein, executive director of Miami Waterkeeper. “And it’s moving at a rate of over a foot a day”, she continues.
Florida state regulators have failed to adequately enforce the law and protect the public, instead choosing to shield the powerful energy company from addressing a longstanding problem.
Critics alleged the canals began running too hot and salty after FPL overhauled two reactors to produce more power, the Miami Herald reports. A judge has recently found that FPL failed to prevent hundreds of thousands of gallons of wastewater from seeping into the bay.
FPL has not responded to requests for comment.
Turkey Point is not the only plant in America seeing its share of environmental problems. Last month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo acknowledged that the state’s Indian Point Nuclear facility was also leaking tritium into groundwater. The Vermont Department of Health has noted ongoing investigations into leaks at Vermont Yankee since 2010, while New York’s FitzPatrick Plant has been “plagued by water leaks” in 2014, Gizmodo notes.