Almost a decade ago, Dr. Frank Mazzotti and Dr. Michael S Cherkiss published “Ecology and Conservation of the American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) in Florida” (2006). The study clearly shows that American crocodiles are rarely found where salinity is above 35 parts per thousand (ppt) and they prefer salinities of 10-20 ppt. The salinity in FPL’s cooling canals is currently about 90 ppt, three times the salinity of seawater.
On March 1, 2015, Michael Pearce, Senior Director at FPL wrote to Mr. Steve Scroggs, FPL’s senior director for project development,
“In my 25 years associated with PTN, we have never experienced a situation with emaciated crocodiles (I think we have significantly underestimated the fallout if we are threatening the crocs...).”
In May, 2015, despite FPL’s knowledge of the decline in crocodile health, and the incompatibility of their cooling canal conditions with crocodile survival, FPL continued to tout their stewardship of crocodile population during the NRC hearings on nuclear expansion at Turkey Point.
On July 16, 2015 University of Florida ecologist and crocodile expert Dr. Frank Mazzotti wrote to Mr. John Wrublik of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in Vero Beach, FL,
“John FYI, At Turkey Point 5 nests in the system, 2 in the mitigation. Maybe 2 more in the system yet to hatch. 33 hatchlings tagged. In ENP (Everglades National Park) more than 80 nest(s) and over 900 hatchlings tagged. Frank”
In 2013 biologists counted 24 crocodile nests in the canals, 22 in 2014, and only 5 in 2015. This 80% nesting decline follows the rise in temperature and salinity following FPL’s 2013 “uprates” that increased the operating temperature inside the nuclear reactors at Turkey Point.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulator Commission has repeatedly approved changes in operations at Turkey Point previously shown by scientists to create conditions incompatible with the threatened population of American crocodiles. The NRC’s recent Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) made no mention of this incompatibility.
FPL’s change in operations appears to have precipitated the demise of the Turkey Point crocodile population, one of several flagship species that resides these wetlands. CASE members strongly oppose this latest environmental insult and all damage inflicted on the Southeast Everglades by FPL’s Turkey Point power-generating operation in a fragile wetland ecosystem situated between two National Parks. FPL’s website continues to extol their stewardship of the American crocodile at Turkey Point:
FPL on their stewardship.
They also are trying to fool the children.
In October, 2014 CASE filed a motion before the Atomic Safety Licensing Board of the NRC opposing actions taken by FPL and approved by the NRC to mitigate the poor conditions in the Turkey Point Cooling Canal System including high temperatures, high salinity, and excessive algae bloom. CASE was granted an evidentiary hearing, which will be held in January 2016 in Homestead FL.