Thursday, July 17, 2014

FPL: Let no crisis go to waste on its march to new nuclear reactors at Turkey Point… by gimleteye

For the past few days, EOM has written about serious problems in FPL's Turkey Point nuclear reactors. The recent "uprating" of the aging nuclear reactors -- built in the 1970's -- has increased stresses on a massive cooling canal system, already failing to perform according to binding legal commitments to the state. For many years, state regulators have been aware that salt water intrusion and the radioactive marker tritium have been moving westward toward population centers because of a cooling canal system malfunction, although the company has gone to great lengths to dilute its responsibilities. Now, a toxic algae bloom is clogging the canal system, elevating temperatures to the edge of the red line for safe operation of the reactors.

The Miami Herald reports the story, today: "Rising water temperatures and severe algae blooms in cooling canals have threatened to force the shutdown of two nuclear reactors at Florida Power & Light’s Turkey Point plant over the last few weeks." (

The Herald report clearly simplifies a complex topic: the role of the cooling canals in maintaining the safe operation of the nuclear reactors. The Herald notes that FPL and the state have agreed to the emergency measure of spraying chemicals in the canal system to reduce the algae bloom and are planning a further unprecedented measure: to use deep aquifer brackish water to dilute the hyper saline conditions in the canal that FPL acknowledges, in its roundabout way, significantly cause saltwater migration westward.

But the Herald report misses the key point: this crisis -- a real and present danger to the safety of South Floridians -- serves a further purpose for FPL. What FPL is proposing is not just to pull rabbits out of its hat to solve the cooling canal problem, but to dramatically alter the terms of its accountability to government agencies in Florida so that if the rabbits turn out to be confetti, no big deal.

The corporation's lobbyists and attorneys have been working behind closed doors with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to offer a new agreement to the Governing Board of the South Florida Water Management District in the near future. The plan will offer the patina of corporate remedies to address the cooling canal mess. But beneath the surficial detail, what the plan does in its broad concept is free FPL from a history of consent agreements it signed with the State of Florida, and in particular from the supervision of scientists of the South Florida Water Management District.

Prior agreements and promises made by FPL to the public in its 1972 operating permit, that the operation of the nuclear reactors including the cooling canal system, would not harm either people or the environment would now give way to a much clearer path for FPL to take whatever water it needs to cool the new and proposed nuclear reactors. What FPL appears to be saying to the public is: you want nuclear power and more nuclear power at Turkey Point, but we have evidence that we need more fresh water to run our reactors safely, and even if the water is more than we thought we needed forty years ago and even if there are real environmental impacts -- they are not all our fault -- we are just going to have to get our water before anyone else gets theirs.

Better to rewrite pesky promises made in the distant past, before the state and corporation march to the NRC for the new proposed nuclear reactors, Six and Seven, that would make Turkey Point the largest nuclear power generator in the nation, in a state judged most vulnerable in the nation to the impacts of climate change.


Anonymous said...

So if they had just left the shade trees alone, less sun, lower algae count, less evaporation, lowers salinity, and cooler water temperatures in the summer?

Gimleteye said...

I'm not sure that is a serious comment or not, but if it is not -- it is disingenuous to imagine that FPL scientists, consultants and that water management district scientists were not aware of the potential for the canal water to overheat and to cause serious, toxic algae blooms. Has there ever been a plan B? Is it time to have a public discussion about decommissioning these forty year old nuclear reactors?

Anonymous said...

they originally had trees when i was a kid which worked well but they were afraid they would clog the canal in a hurricane. Had to use airboats to cut them all down. Seem a little over the top at the time.

Anonymous said...

The Herald should acknowledge Climate Change impact on what is happening and will only worsen in today's story.

Anonymous said...

All signs point to leaving Miami and Florida for me. We have a dysfunctional local and state government, ever increasing insurance and living costs and no upside. People vote with their feet.

Anonymous said...

Watching all the wacky weather events recently across the country, floods, hail, fires, etc, I think I'll take my chances staying here.

I can only hope that if something goes bad with turkey point its big and quick and we're all gone so quick that we don't have time to suffer.

Just curious, I've never heard the term about people voting with their feet. What does that mean?

Anonymous said...

Voting with your feet = walking away from a community that is dysfunctional. In Miami, because of political corruption, cronyism and sheer stupidity.

Anonymous said...

Voting with your feet started in inner City Miami decades ago.
A cantankerous real-estate lady in the Miami upper East Side would trow the saying at the City Commissioners when about to make a bone headed decision.

Anonymous said...

Is this algae bloom a result of no shade, nutrient accumulation, a result of very high temperatures, or a combination of all? May be higher then previous temps?
What about scooping the algae conveyer like and depositing it on the berms?
Exactly what kind of temperatures are we talking about at reactor discharge?
On the other hand, pools in Miami get to be easily over 90 degrees just sitting in the sun in July.

Part of the discussion should be the production of unusable waste heat, as percentage in Kilowatt electricity produced. In colder climates waste heat is used for heating of housing nearby. Here it ad's to the environmental heat load.

Anonymous said...

FPL knew what would happen. If the scientists at SFWMD said a word they were Fired. Things are so bad all the agencies that are supposed to protect us have been taken over by cronies long ago. The boards are crooks, the administrators are crooks, and so are upper management.They are all bribe-able hacks. Sadly FPL uses ratepayers money to pay the bribes. A new problem which is threatening the Everglades and Florida Bay is the deeper dredging of the Port that is a disaster we will never recover from. At a SFWMD meeting they were mystified by how big and bad algae blooms were well, guess what its the dredging. Its time to say Hell no.No more stupidity. No More failed, flawed, idiot, modeling.