Friday, December 21, 2007

Nuclear power in Miami Dade county by gimleteye

I wasn't invited to the FPL victory party, after the Miami Dade county commission voted 11-1 to approve the special use permit, an important step on FPL's way to obtaining permits for two new nuclear reactors at Turkey Point.

It’s been a lousy week for the public interest, down at County Hall. Not that the public stands much of a chance in our deformed representative democracy.

Up on the dais, the county commissioners know that few people pay attention to a style of governance in which all important decisions are counted, before the issue ever reaches meeting day.

Meeting day, especially on controversial issues, are for the make-believe lawyers on the commission —like Joe Martinez—to single out citizens who stray from conscribed roles. They are disrespectful even to their own colleagues.

It deserves exposure by the mainstream media how Katy Sorenson, the lone “no” vote on the Turkey Point nuclear plant zoning issue, fired questions that sealed the issue of doubt, while the rest of the commissioners led by Natacha Seijas and Audrey Edmunson chattered away.

Katy takes it in stride. It's disgusting to watch and you have to be at the county commission to see it, because the TV cameras only frame who is speaking and miss the rest.

The mercenaries in the audience sat pleased as Cheshire cats, filling the front two rows: "We're getting paid to watch this!"

It was an impressive display of what money can buy by Florida Power and Light.

By the time of the vote, the long train of supporters who testified at the public hearing had gone: two dozen speakers assembled from the cast of stock characters in the seventh grade play that passes for government: the first to rush to the podium, the president of the Latin Builders Association (I'm the boss!), the Chamber of Commerce fellow with his stentorian tone descended from a long line of identical Chamber fellows, the thankful and humble African American owner of a small trucking business, a preacher from Florida City in love with the television camera, a former nuclear engineer who castigated in a calibrated accent of the exilio the dark motives of a minority of objectors, a mayor, etc. etc. (There is a plot line for "Dexter", somewhere here.)

The county commissioners, backed by agency heads, said ‘not to worry, we have assurances and conditions’ which is how FPL got its special use zoning approval without even touching the two major issues—whether you like nuclear power or not: where’s the water going to come from, and where is the fill to raise the 350 acre site up in the air, by twenty feet.

Just watch what happens to those conditions when they are challenged by a corporation, FPL, that has plainly stated is will spend $100 million in the planning and permitting of the new reactors.

This was the main point of those who objected to the zoning approval: it’s not about nuclear power which somehow made environmentalists out of the very same interests who have trashed south Florida—it is about where the hell the water is going to come from to cool the reactors so they don't melt down, it is about protecting environmentally sensitive lands bordering Biscyane National Park that are already badly compromised by pollution and neglect.

Isn't the public owed that basic information, before the permitting squirts away from Miami Dade to the industry friendly confines of Tallahassee and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission? no.

It wouldn’t have taken much for the county commissioners to stick up for the people’s concern about water supply and the cost: make FPL show exactly how they would get the water, today. Not tomorrow, not after they’ve buried the public in “process”, hired engineers and lobbyists who are former legislators or former agency heads, to testify that it will all work out at some indeterminate point in the future and that what happened at Chernobyl could never happen here.

Well, it can’t happen until it does happen, and then all you will hear is “oops”. You might hear about higher incidence of leukemia in the children of Homestead, Keys Gate, or the poor folk who go to church faithfully every Sunday.

And once these plants are built, in the time of a water crisis the needs of people will not come first: no, that issue has already been broached in the water disaster unfolding in Georgia, where the cooling requirements of nearby nuclear facilities are taking first call of supply.

But Miami is easy pickings. And Homestead, even easier. No one said a word—from the assembled interests of the Growth Machine—about the particulars of evaporating 90 million gallons per day.

No TV cameras. No opinion from the Miami Herald. Nada.

So if re-use water is used, or even the Floridan, to cool the reactors through evaporation, the rain clouds above your head will be filled with unmentionables. Vaporized piss and shit raining down on us.

Oh it will be cleaned to federal standards, FPL will say. "Cleaner than drinking water."

Remember those words, and then remember that current federal standards for drinking water don’t even factor in the stuff that gets by the cleaning filters: the pharmaceuticals that some county commissioners take for blood pressure, or estrogen for menopause or birth control, or the medical waste byproducts from hospitals, or the heavy metals and other inorganic chemicals that aren’t even listed.

Miami Dade county government had no business letting a pie-in-the-sky plan go through, and now a costly battle will be waged.

But this is not going to be a David vs. Goliath battle. It is simply a battle to get the facts out, that FPL refused to give to the public and rate payers and which your representative democracy should have insisted on but did not, busy as they were with the sober business of taking care of people.

Who knows at what point the county commissioners on the dais today will be looking for a consulting contract with the mercenaries in the audience, or a campaign contribution, or a vacation on a yacht off the coast of Mexico or a hotel in Puerto Rico.


Anonymous said...

I noticed how the disfunctional 12 were so respectful of the supporters, most of who were chamber or union types. It took only microseconds for Joe "I want to be mayor" Martinez to ridicule the opponents. That is the MO for our paid-for commissioners; make the opponents of their pet projects look like Jack the Ripper. What disturbed me was FPL using terms like, "to the extent we are able","probably", "maybe" and other inexact terms that give them plenty of wiggle room for the future. No one asked FPL if these plants would lower our power bills, an assurtion implied by FPL because now we won't have to buy 40% of our power from other places. The hearing was a sham that County-watchers have seen played-out a thousand times.

out of sight said...

It would have been entertaining, if it had not been disgusting. How can you have a zoning hearing, permitting a nuclear plant without the facts? That action takes Fiduciary relationships to a low.

I sure wish I could have my business permitted without plans. "Trust me, Commissioners, I will look out for your interests, but, my plans are secret." Yup. You know I would get my business permit approved.

They are right, though, I don't really want to know if I am going to have to pay for a desalination plant or if I am going to be breathing body wastes...I may want to move away from the county if I know.

The meeting was like watching a re-run of the Airport hearings. Same script, many of the same players, same political will and the same shaft job. At least this time, we know we have a no-bid contract up front!

It sucks to be us.

Anonymous said...

This is what happens when you have individuals that do not understand the process speaking about the process. If FPL cannot obtain a consumptive water permit from WASD, it will never be able to move forward. This is just the first of a few hundred steps that still need to be taken. We are talking federal, state and additional local approvals people. Fact is, we need the additional power capabilities. Talk about everything else all you want, if we start having rolling brownouts, then everyone on this thread will be complaining to high heaven. Katy will always vote against it, because that is her profile.

Although I disagree with Joe Martinez, I thought he was well within his rights to cross examine the annoying Kent Harrison Robins. That man is a joke, and degrades the credibility of good opposition counsel, such as my good friend Tucker Gibbs who did a perfect job of entering his objections to the application.

Same thing with the Global CRA. There was no final action in connection with either, just allowing for the posibility. By the way, of the 2 billion dollars that were approved, about 1.5 billion of that is coming from the State of Florida. If we don't leverage the deal by infusing what is really a minimal amount of local dollars, we risk losing that money to Panama City, or Pahoke, who knows.

Honestly, people need to calm down. Stay viligent, and monitor the process, but understand where we are on the process.

out of sight said...

The process is onerous, but it was obvious yesterday that the political will is not to stop FPL. Our county commissioners will push this through one way or another. (This is the same for anything they take a shine to)

It will cost the taxpayers and the non-profits big bucks to force the information that needs to be on the table, out onto the table. That does the community a grave disservice, our givernment (no typo) should be asking the HARD questions prior to approvals.

To be diligent on this process it will take more money than my little piggy bank has available. I suppose I can quit work and live in a park near the plant while fighting for disclosure of information. FPL will spend MY money paid to them to fight disclosure of information. Ironic, isn't it?

Personally, I am not sure I care that attention and money goes elsewhere. If the money and attention is here, it gets mis-used and stolen.

Geniusofdespair said...

I want to re-iterate this point: the rules are routinely ignored or broken when it suits the interests of the Growth Machine. Process is used to exhaust opponents' resources, and guess what: because political interests dominate agencies, whose top employees appease the regulated community because they may end up asking for employment by the regulated at some point in the future, the public interest is burnt to a crisp.

FPL would not have entered into this process fearing the difficulty of getting a consumptive use permit from the state any more than the prospective developers of Parkland fear the process of county and state approvals to move the UDB.

And here's the bottom line to process: it costs lots of money for civic groups to fight "process". For citizens and political causes, their contributions are after-tax dollars. For charitable orgs, it is money that can't be spent on politics. And for the mercenaries, it is accounted for as pre-tax marketing expenses.

out of sight said...

Wonderfully said! Genius... right on point!

Anonymous said...


Give me one example of how "the rules are routinely ignored or broken when it suits the interests of the Growth Machine" in the FPL case? I've heard no such allegation here.

I have to agree with the anonymous poster above regarding the general level of ignorance of the zoning and planning process that goes here.

It is this ignorance that allows people here to keep touting Hometown Democracy as the solution to all of Florida's ills.

Geniusofdespair said...

I didn't write that...gimleteye must have and forgotten to change the name that automatically comes I don't care to comment on what I didn't say.

And, I am tired of defending get the government you deserve. I sat and watched as natacha seijas and audrey edmonson spoke as loud as possible to each other the WHOLE time Katy Sorenson talked at least 10 or 15 minutes. Katy asked the chair for order: He shrugged his shoulders. That is who makes our land use decisions now: total nitwits. You want to leave the most important landuse decisions in the hands of nitwits. Go ahead, be a putz.

Let me estimate some IQ'S on the commission:
Rolle: 85 to 90
Edmonson: 100
Souto: Senilty setting in so about 87 at times 103 at other times.
Seijas: 110 to 115
Martinez: He thinks it is 120, it is really about 97

The petition is not the solution to all our ills but it certainly is a start.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone catch the disclaimer in the beginning from Moss. He said he was contacted by a reporter and commented on the application, not realizing it was a zoning application. Anyone believe the commissioner did not know this high-profile application was for zoning. Officials voting on a zoning application are PROHIBITED from discussing the application with anyone except staff; that's the Jenning's law. He got caught because he was quoted in the paper. His disclaimer was an attempt to cover his tracks that he had been lobbied by the applicant. Sosa jumped and said she had also been contacted but made no comment. Maybe, maybe not. Commissioners need to not speak on zoning applications and when they do there should be a charge. Ignorance is no excuse.