Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Something is wrong with FPL nuclear at Turkey Point: time for whistleblowers to speak up … by gimleteye

If you are a disgruntled voter, self-described independent or a member of an amorphous Tea Party, you most likely believe that our societal problems stem from government. Here is a brief report how failures of our democratic institutions do not happen by accident: they happen by design.

When government fails, who benefits most? Corporations. And corporations that profit most from government-designed-to-fail are the leviathans involved in the production and distribution of energy.

The last two days I've written about the failure of the cooling canals at FPL's Turkey Point nuclear units three and four. Multiple levels of governmental supervision of FPL have failed, because the corporation exerts extreme pressure at each and every point of contact with government.

Nuclear power is clean and efficient. It is also highly dangerous and toxic. When mistakes occur, the consequences last for hundreds of lifetimes. No amount of lawyering can change that immutable reality.

FPL, in its constant marketing blitz to consumers and the public, touts its safety record at Turkey Point. This, despite lapses that draw the attention of regulators and quickly fade from public view. The corporation also makes claims for benign environmental sustainability -- building wind mills and solar farms -- and even at Turkey Point FPL constantly points to endangered species like the American crocodile that nest on its property.

But the reality of the failed cooling canal system at the Turkey Point cooling canal can't be papered over. To be clear: I am not against nuclear power. I am for corporate responsibility. What is happening in the cooling canal system at Turkey Point and in governmental agencies, at the behest of FPL, is the height of corporate irresponsibility.

The Turkey Point cooling canal system has been failing for many years. During this time, FPL has brushed aside concerns and criticism of government agencies -- especially those involving drinking water and waters protected by state and federal law including adjacent Biscayne National Park and the Everglades ecosystem. In serial agreements with the state of Florida, FPL guaranteed that the system would be a closed-loop, well protected and insulated cooling canal -- spanning nearly the distance from Key West to Havana and back -- that would protect drinking water and the outstanding waters of Florida and the adjacent Biscayne National Park.

This system doesn't work. It is failing. The government has been incapable of enforcing against the corporation on the failure of the cooling canal system -- a 168 mile radiator coil designed to disperse heat from the super-heated water after it is propelled from its cooling work -- , because of the corporation's influence in the state legislature, in the governor's office, and with the water management district's governing board.

What do legislators or political appointees know about nuclear engineering? Not much. That is no excuse for these leaders -- mostly conservative Republicans -- to mistrust their own government agency staff and scientists who do know, or, do understand the impacts.

On the second page of the two hundred thirty four page final order for certification of the state siting for FPL's two planned nuclear reactors at Turkey Point, the Governor Scott Florida Department of Environmental Protection writes, "In enacting the PPSA (Power Plant Siting Act), the Florida Legislature provided one, unified procedure for the certification of power plants and associated facilities. See § 403.502, Fla. Stat. (2013). The procedure is a comprehensive, coordinated review for obtaining state and local permits and approvals to build or modify power plants and power lines."

A "comprehensive, coordinated review" is a myth. What happens is a process that is dominated by utilities, funded by ratepayers, to suffocate the reasonable purposes of government to protect the public interest, health and welfare of citizens.

In the case of the failed cooling canals at Turkey Point, a science-based "comprehensive, coordinated review" would balance key points of public interest, including the fact of water scarcity in South Florida and legal claims for water allocation to serve both the economy and the environment, and review whether it is now time for FPL to decommission two aged nuclear reactors operating well past their manufacturer's original warranties.

Under the politicization of agencies, and especially now with a November election involving an unpopular incumbent governor, FPL holds a grip on the myth of "comprehensive, coordinated review". On the undue influence of FPL and its failed cooling canal system, it is time for some whistleblowers to shine light on a gnarly mess.

See Part 2


Anonymous said...

A Whistleblower would require a person with fearless back bone and the where withal to weather the fallout and relentless blow back from the powerful affected.
In other words, it's not going to be anybody expecting to retire on a pension, unfortunately.
On top of that, the whistler would have to know to do so in absolute anonymity, tall order now a days.

Anonymous said...

Sea level rise.

Anonymous said...

eom, you should already know, but you two defiantly rock!