Saturday, April 30, 2016

FPL and The Politics of Aquifer Destruction In South Florida ... by gimleteye

FPL's Mike Sole, Speaking at Senate Field Meeting April 29th
It was, as depicted by the Miami Herald, a "rare senate field hearing" on a late Friday afternoon in Homestead. About a dozen Florida state senate and house leaders attended the packed meeting at Miami-Dade College. Also in the front rows: staff and attorneys from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, from Florida DEP, and from Miami-Dade DERM. In the audience: elected officials like County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, Mayor Philip Stoddard and Mayor Cindy Lerner. At issue: the manifest failure of cooling canals at Turkey Point serving FPL's two aging nuclear reactors.

The meeting convener said accurately, at the start, no one on the panel chose to be in Homestead on a late Friday. He also warned the participants on the panel not to "politic" the FPL aquifer destruction issue, an admonition immediately contradicted by the positioning of the highest ranking elected official -- incoming senate president Joe Negron, a Republican -- flanked by two Miami-Dade Republicans whose senate seats are up for grabs in November as a result of Fair Districts; Miguel Diaz de la Portilla and Anitere Flores.

Miami-Dade County and Monroe County voters have no similar protections.

The dismal reality is that FPL's problems at Turkey Point have been percolating for more than thirty years. Michael Sole, the FPL vice president and former secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, bounced over that fact during his hour long introduction to the panel and audience.

Listening from my seat, Sole's presentation was polished and illuminating; in particular his frequent return the word "freshening" to describe the action FPL is taking to dilute its pollution in the cooling canals.

Freshening is something you do to wake up. Splash some cool water on the face. Everyone loves being freshened. What FPL is doing with its "freshening" will cost FPL customers $50 million this year. That's the money it will cost to plug up FPL's problem; the contamination of underlying groundwater leaking westward to drinking water wells and eastward under Biscayne National Park.

The $50 million assessment on ratepayers is grossly inaccurate.

To stop the overheating of the cooling canal system (never mind the pollution problem), FPL is now authorized by emergency measures of the Rick Scott administration in Tallahassee to withdraw nearly 150 million gallons per day of fresh water from our aquifer into its 168 mile long cooling canal system. That water belongs to the people of Florida. It is water being stripped from the aquifer in exactly a part of the Everglades ecosystem that we long ago pledged to fix: southern Biscayne Bay, from the nearshore waters stretching to Ocean Reef, and including a 30,000 acre tract of former wetlands now bone-dry as a result of FPL's problem called the Model Lands.

So the cost this year to taxpayers is not just $50 million, according to Sole, the cost includes turning Biscayne Bay wetlands into FPL's sacrifice zone. Sole is a board member of the Everglades Foundation which, as a consequence, is an awkward defender of FPL and silent on Turkey Point.

There was a further inaccuracy in Sole's statement to the panel. FPL has not been, in Sole's words, clear and transparent in sharing the science and data on its cooling canal problem at Turkey Point. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Over many years, FPL bullied its way through state and local agencies, overtly and covertly threatening staff and using legalistic sleights-of-hand to avoid making public the results of monitoring and testing, especially in Biscayne Bay.

Sole's powerpoint presentation (with some map slides where delineation boundaries were awkwardly invisible) showed exactly TWO measuring stations in Biscayne Bay and three measuring points in areas close to the nuclear facility it now disputes. Those three measurement sites were added as a result of findings following the controversial power uprate in 2012 for the aging reactors. One can't draw a better inference how the public interest has been blocked than the concerted effort by FPL to stop state and local government from data collection and analysis.

FPL and regulators now assert the problem of the overheated cooling canal system is the result -- not of the uprate approved by Florida politicians and Scott appointees at the Public Service Commission -- but of abnormally hot weather and drought.

They don't call it climate change.

To acknowledge climate change at Turkey Point would require FPL to agree that these weather-related phenomena are precursors of rapid sea-level rise that will exert severe pressure on Turkey Point's nuclear reactors, its cooling canal system and every acre of South Dade.

As for the sea-level rise shareholder proposal to be assessed at the Company's upcoming annual meeting in Oklahoma! (my wife and I made the proposal through NextEra Energy), that is opposed too because -- according to the Company -- everything is under control.


Anonymous said...

The Everglades Foundation does not list Michael Sole as a director on its website. They appear to be burying his involvement.

Anonymous said...

Was Westinghouse the designer of this plant? If so, how many plants of this design did they build and who gave them a get out of jail card?

Anonymous said...

Yes he is listed. just click through.

Geniusofdespair said...

Freshening? Really? I suppose it wouldn't have hurt to listen. Nah, if I would have, I might have got up and yelled: MINIMIZER! It is a popular tool, one used by child sexual predators. They do it when describing their crimes against children.

Anonymous said...

Canals and lakes in Homestead are pretty low considering the heavy winter rains, probably due to FPL tapping into the aquifer.

FPL puts lipstick on pigs. Sole has been giving his standard speech to concerned citizens and elected officials for a month now. It should be polished. He is an actor in the Kabuki Theater of FPL.

Anonymous said...

The Everglades Foundation Sucks.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for continuing to shine a light on this travesty; it is played out time after time: corporate greed trumping public interest in this great state. Je suis SICK OF THIS!

Anonymous said...

This show was for the incumbents no other reason to have it.

Anonymous said...

Overall, I was struck by: 1) the preposterous presentation by FPL that attempted to portray itself as a good corporate citizen and the softball follow-up questions asked by the state politicians, many who are directly or indirectly funded by FPL; 2) the narrow focus on the saline plume, to the exclusion of the other polluting FPL activities and no mention of sea level rise; 3) the hurried and patronizing manner of the chairman in an attempt to get it over with; 4) that the greatest threat posed to FPL and its nuke operation may come from a litigious rock miner (Atlantic Civil); 5) the preparedness of local mayors from Pinecrest and South Miami and a conservationist, Ms Reynolds; 6) the anger and disappointment of the citizenry towards the state legislators in not fulfilling their roles as public stewards.

The visiting legislators pretended to care about the issues but became indignant whenever it appeared as though they weren't believable. Another example of political corruption and ineffective governance. Thanks Florida pols. Do your job for the people, not your owners!

Anonymous said...

Let us all unite and urge our governor to do what Governir Como did for Con Edusion Neckar plant in Long Island, New York. Just decommission the plant and we all pay a little pit more monthly to take this nightmare away.

A nuculae accident will happens, it is when not if.

Tom Southern said...

Imagine this....instead of what was said at the meeting, you heard the FPL guy get up and say:

I want to apologize to the people of south Florida for having knowingly hidden the truth about polluting your bay and your water supply. I want to apologize too, for refusing to do more than pay lip service to energy efficiency efforts that would have greatly reduced the need for generating more electricity. And finally, I want to apologize for doing our best to stifle efforts to promote solar power generation.

We did all this because, to tell you the truth, we didn't really care about you, we cared about the rich people on our boards and our shareholders, and our own rear ends. I know, we're you're 'public utility', but we honestly just didn't care about you.

But when I woke up this morning, I had a 'come to Jesus moment.'

So, from here on out, we will stop treating the land like a business in liquidation. We will work to decommission Turkey Point as soon as possible. We will employ our money and talent to support the expansion of solar power generation and every energy efficiency measure we can come up with to reduce demand. And we will refund to the people the money we have charged them to fund our effort to expand Turkey Point.