• Advertisement
To advertise, place classifieds free ads by category in a forum as a new topic, or in the classified display ads section, or start a classifieds free blog.

Challenge to FPL Plan to Store Nuclear Waste Beneath Miami's Drinking Water Gets Federal Hearing Next Week

Challenge to FPL Plan to Store Nuclear Waste Beneath Miami's Drinking Water Gets Federal Hearing Next Week

Postby smix » Thu Apr 27, 2017 6:29 am

Challenge to FPL Plan to Store Nuclear Waste Beneath Miami's Drinking Water Gets Federal Hearing Next Week
Miami New Times

URL: http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/heari ... -2-9302628
Category: Legal
Published: April 26, 2017

Description: Multiple studies have warned that fluid injected into the "Boulder Zone," the lowest section of the aquifers that sit underneath South Florida, could leak directly into Miami's drinking water. Despite those warnings, Florida Power & Light has barreled forward with a plan to store radioactive waste in that low-lying area as early as 2028. FPL also hopes to build two new nuclear reactors at its Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station in Homestead — a site that the county and state have already cited for leaking saltwater into the drinking-water aquifer and radioactive wastewater into Biscayne Bay. FPL first filed plans to build those new reactors and to store their radioactive waste in the Boulder Zone back in 2009. Environmentalists including the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) and the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) quickly filed legal challenges and have been fighting since. Now, after seven years, federal regulators will finally hold a hearing next week to discuss whether FPL can go forward with a plan that green activists worry could contaminate Miami's drinking water system with radioactive material and carcinogens. In a phone call with reporters yesterday, representatives from SACE, the NPCA, and lawyers for the two organizations spoke alongside South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard to warn that time is running out to challenge FPL's waste-storage plan. The Boulder Zone has "two features that should scare the heck out of everybody," said Stoddard, who teaches at Florida International University and has become one of FPL's most vocal critics. "The first is a feature called 'Karst collapse,' which is when the ceiling falls in, creating a conical depression with a hole in it, where water can pass upwards into the upper Floridan Aquifer. The second is vertical fault lines, where water can migrate up into places that can get to us." The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), a federal body, is tasked with approving FPL's "Environmental Impact Study" for Turkey Point's new reactors. In 2010, SACE filed an appeal, contending that the energy company's plan could leak wastewater into the Biscayne Aquifer, the area's largest source of drinking water. If SACE succeeds, FPL will be forced to rewrite its Impact Statement, potentially delaying the project by years. A second group, called Citizens Allied for Safe Energy (CASE), also filed a petition with the NRC last year to stop the plan. But the NRC threw CASE's legal challenge out in January, claiming it had been filed too late. More than 66,000 people have signed a Change.org petition asking state legislators to force FPL to rewrite its plans. But while FPL has tried to dismiss SACE's complaint for the last seven years, regulators have decided the claim has enough merit to hold a hearing on May 2. Stoddard agrees. He said that he sat in on an NRC meeting last August, where he first heard about the so-called "radwaste" plan. Stoddard said he went home and researched the Boulder Zone, and was stunned as to what he found. According to FPL's Environmental Impact Statement, the Boulder Zone is "hermetically sealed," meaning waste couldn't escape the area. But government documents refute that claim. A 2015 U.S. Geological Survey study, conducted in tandem with Miami-Dade County, used a technique called "seismic reflection" to deduce whether the Boulder Zone contained any holes or leaks — and the study provided damning evidence that Karst collapse structures and fault lines run all throughout the zone's top layer. (Likewise, an FPL engineer also testified in the past that the Boulder Zone has the capacity to leak upwards.) "This is not mentioned in any of the safety reports that the NRC has," Stoddard said. In a written statement, a spokesperson for FPL, Peter Robbins, dismissed SACE and its compatriots as anti-energy extremists. "SACE is an anti-utility, anti-nuclear group with a political agenda," he said via email. "Protecting the safety of our customers and our team members is our top priority. Our men and women work and live in this community, and we are committed to ensuring their safety, the public’s safety and protecting the environment." He added that the company will use next week's hearing to "share information about the quality of water that would be safely sent deep underground as part of the Turkey Point units 6 & 7 project." FPL contends that the levels of radioactive waste injected into the Boulder Zone will be far lower than regulatory benchmarks. "The levels of every single compound in the wastewater will be in compliance with strict federal standards, even though this water is going to an area that is deep underground and inaccessible," Robbins wrote. "The extremely low levels of compounds would be confined in this area deep underground, where they would mix with salty water. This process is used safely throughout the state of Florida and the southeastern United States." Miami-Dade County has used the Boulder Zone to stash raw sewage since at least the 1960s. But both SACE and Stoddard say there are documented cases in which the zone has leaked that waste. SACE's legal team said its expert will share those instances with the NRC next Tuesday. Likewise, Stoddard warned that so-called "diluted, low-level" radioactive waste can collect in nearby plants like kelp, for example, and become toxic over time. The environmentalists also voiced concerns about other portions of the Turkey Point expansion plan. Captain Dan Kipnis, a local fisherman and longtime climate-change activist, warned that FPL's plan only plans for 12 inches of sea-level rise by the year 2100. Scientists now expect seas to rise by closer to eight feet by that time. "We wouldn’t get a tidal wave, necessarily, but we could definitely get a storm surge from a hurricane," Kipnis said. "If those fuel rods lose [cooling] water, you get an explosion like Fukushima. It could be catastrophic." (Robbins, the FPL spokesperson, disagrees, and says the company has taken sea-level rise into account. "The units themselves and the surrounding facilities have been intentionally designed to sit far above most other structures in Miami-Dade County," he wrote. "The plant area will be raised to a finished grade elevation of approximately 19 ft. - 25.5 ft. above sea level.") SACE's Director of High-Risk Energy, Sara Barczak, also warned that the project is simply going to be far too expensive for FPL to finish building. While costs for renewable energy, like solar and wind power, continue to fall steeply, nuclear reactors keep getting more expensive to build. The Westinghouse company, which is owned by Toshiba and builds nuclear reactors, went bankrupt earlier this year, after costs ran too high at nuclear sites in South Carolina and Georgia. FPL is planning to build Westinghouse's AP1000 reactor at the Turkey Point expansion — but, with Westinghouse's bankruptcy, the power company must now find a new company to build Westinghouse's design. SACE's Barczak warned that even before Westinghouse went under, costs for new nuclear plants exceeded $20 billion. "Now, you don’t have Westinghouse anymore," Barczak warned. "Nobody is going to bid what Westinghouse bid on those on South Carolina and Georgia projects." Given all the concerns, SACE had one obvious warning for FPL: Get out of the nuclear-energy game. "The nuclear blinders need to be torn off," she said. "The reality is, energy efficiency is a fraction of the costs. As long as utilities can make money building big, old power plants, they're going to pass the cost unfairly to customers. And we'll continue to see this stupid trend of building something that is not needed and not sustainable."



City of Miami Slams FPL's Plan to Inject Nuclear Waste Below Dade's Drinking Water
Miami New Times

URL: http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/city- ... nt-9320009
Category: Legal
Published: May 3, 2017

Description: For the past seven years, Florida Power & Light has battled environmentalists over its plans to build two new reactors and inject their radioactive waste 3,000 feet underground, just below the aquifers where South Florida gets its drinking water. Environmentalists have vigorously argued that science shows the dangerous waste could leech upward into Miami's drinking water. And yesterday, those green activists finally earned a hearing before the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). But it turns out the two environmental groups leading the fight aren't the only ones opposed to the plan: Lawyers for the City of Miami and the nearby Village of Pinecrest both slammed FPL's plan and urged the NRC to reconsider the electric monopoly's proposal. Miami Assistant City Attorney Xavier Albán called FPL's final "environmental impact statement" for the new reactors at the Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station "deficient" and begged the NRC to force FPL to come up with a waste-storage plan that would not affect Miami's drinking water. "FPL has failed to adequately demonstrate that the direct effect, indirect effects, and cumulative impact to the natural physical environment are 'small,'" Albán said. "The environmental impacts will not be 'small.'" The risk of possible carcinogens leaking into the city's source of drinking water "can never be small," he added. FPL also spoke in front of the NRC yesterday and argued that the environmentalists and city officials were wrong. Its science was just fine, the company claimed. "The NRC is not required to look at every potential environmental impact and does not have to consider worst-case scenarios," an FPL representative said before the NRC board. In Miami and Pinecrest, FPL has found its two largest opponents to date. The official challenge to the company's plans was brought by two groups: the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) and National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA). The power company had dismissed groups such as SACE as "anti-nuclear" extremist using the wastewater-storage plan as a cover to try to tank a Turkey Point expansion. But FPL will have a difficult time painting the City of Miami — hardly the greenest organization on Earth — with a similar brush. "The City of Miami has serious concerns with respect to FPL's application for a combined operating license for Turkey Point proposed units six and seven," Albán said. "With respect to the contention before you, this matter specifically relates to the sanctity and protection of a designated source of drinking water, the Upper Floridan Aquifer." Turkey Point has been the bane of Florida environmentalists since it was built in the 1970s. The plant sits near multiple protected wetland areas, nature preserves, and conservation sites and uses a unique method — a cooling canal system — to treat its wastewater. But those canals are already leaking into Biscayne Bay, and cities across South Florida have urged FPL to stop using the canals. Since 1973, it's also been proven that nuclear power is neither "clean" nor "carbon neutral": In addition to nuclear-waste concerns, the methods required to dig up and enrich uranium leak carbon dioxide into the air, thus contributing to climate change. (Nuclear plants have also become more expensive to build over the past few years, while costs for renewable energy such as solar and wind have fallen.) Despite those concerns, FPL in 2009 applied to build two new reactors at Turkey Point. The next year, SACE filed a petition to stop the plan, on the grounds that FPL's wastewater-storage plan is potentially dangerous to humans and the environment. FPL wants to inject radioactive waste into the so-called Boulder Zone of the Floridan Aquifer, a rocky area full of extremely salty water about 3,000 feet below ground. Miami-Dade County has used the area for decades to store raw sewage. But new government studies, including one comprehensive 2015 study from the United States Geological Survey (USGS), warn that fluid injected into the Boulder Zone could leak into the Biscayne Aquifer and other federally protected drinking-water sources. To move forward, the NRC must approve FPL's "Environmental Impact Statement." The NRC issued an initial approval in October. But SACE's legal petition still lingered, and after years of fighting, the NRC finally granted SACE an "evidentiary hearing" to raise concerns about FPL's waste-storage plan yesterday. (SACE previously told New Times that since its initial complaint was filed in 2010, it did not deal specifically with FPL's radioactive-waste plan; rather, SACE contends that other carcinogens, including ethylbenzene, could also leech into the Biscayne Aquifer.) After SACE spoke against the plan yesterday, both the City of Miami's Albán and an attorney for the Village of Pinecrest laid into the science that FPL used to argue for its new reactors. According to the City of Miami, the "low-level" concentrations of waste that FPL claims it will inject into the ground aren't scientifically accurate. Albán said that FPL plans to use as many as 13 wells to inject waste into the Boulder Zone — and that the combined waste from those wells isn't factored into the last Turkey Point impact statement. "The concentrations of chemicals, some of which are potentially carcinogenic, are not accurate," Albán said. With those 13 injection-wells operating, the city also said, the wastewater has the potential to drift much farther westward than FPL projects. Albán also mentioned the 2015 USGS study, which warned that fault lines and conical "Karst collapse" holes in the confining rock layer could lead to drinking-water contamination. These issues are "gravely concerning to the residents of the Village of Pinecrest," that city's representative also said from the podium. In response, the power company's representatives instead argued that FPL and the NRC had done enough under federal law to let the electricity monopoly continue building. "Obviously, the applicant has more than satisfied its obligations under NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act]," FPL's representative said. The company cited multiple licensed geologists and at least one Florida State University toxicologist, who all worked on the proposal. FPL claimed the radioactive waste's injection 3,000 feet below ground, under roughly 500 yards of "confining rock," is enough of a barrier to protect the public from any adverse effects. FPL also dismissed the concerns of SACE, the National Parks Conservation Association, the Village of Pinecrest, and the City of Miami as "not science" but "pure speculation." "From their perspective, there is simply no scientific basis for concluding that the environmental impacts are greater than small or that further study is necessary," FPL's representative said. The NRC will likely take weeks, or perhaps months, to issue a ruling.



Florida Keys Demand FPL Stop Using Leaking Turkey Point Cooling Canals
Miami New Times

URL: http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/flori ... ls-9142718
Category: Legal
Published: February 16, 2017

Description: The Turkey Point nuclear plant sits on the southern edge of Miami-Dade, but that doesn't mean it's the only county affected by the Florida Power and Light plant. Last year, Miami-Dade officials sanctioned FPL and warned that the canals used to cool the plant's wastewater were leaking into Biscayne Bay. Radioactive materials were found in the water, albeit at levels most scientists say are safe for humans. But that leakage — which also impacts local ecosystems — could also drift down to the Florida Keys. And so yesterday, the Monroe County Commission passed a resolution urging FPL to stop using the canals for good. Citing concern "about these recent discoveries and potential impacts on Card Sound, Biscayne Bay, and the Florida Keys’ drinking water supply," the resolution says, the county wants FPL to "discontinue the use of the cooling canal system in favor of a more modern mechanical draft cooling tower system." The Monroe County Commission passed the resolution during its regular meeting yesterday. An FPL spokesperson could not be reached late last evening for comment. But Turkey Point — and its cooling canal system, in particular — have been the bane of Florida environmentalists since the plant opened in the 1970s. The plant sits along the coastline in Homestead, due west of Elliott Key. Environmental groups, like the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) and National Parks Conservation Alliance (NPCA), have long complained that the power plant sits perilously close to protected nature areas. "You couldn’t find a worse place to put a nuclear power plant," the NCPA's Biscayne program manager, Caroline McLaughlin, told New Times last month. Turkey Point is the only nuclear power plant in the U.S. that uses the "cooling canal" system, which pumps nuclear waste through five-mile-long, radiator-like tubes back and forth along the bay. The canals cover roughly 5,900 acres. According to the Miami Herald, the canal system was created in 1972, as a compromise with regulators — FPL had originally proposed just dumping wastewater right into the bay. But environmentalists warned at the time that the canal system was almost guaranteed to leak — and leak it has. The canals have caused a massive plume of saltwater to bloom in the water surrounding the plant, in a radius that stretches from the Homestead Air Force Base, at the north end of the city, all the way down into the Keys. And the plume is growing. Despite the clear evidence that the canals were to blame, FPL then fought with Miami-Dade County over a solution. In 2015, the company agreed to pump highly salty water deep down into the so-called "boulder zone" of the Floridan Aquifer — while FPL says the zone is sealed and will not leak into drinking water sources, environmentalists and numerous governmental studies have warned that the boulder zone could leak out into Biscayne Bay, or into the Biscayne Aquifer, South Florida's main source of drinking water. The zone, however, is already full of highly salty water. (More on the boulder zone later.) Last year, the state government gave FPL 10 years to clean up its mess, but environmentalists warned the sanctions likely did not go far enough. According to Monroe County documents, FPL has a contract in place with the state to run the cooling canals until 2033. But Keys lawmakers don't think the island environment can wait that long and are now asking FPL to discontinue using the canals as soon as possible. They want the plant to start using draft cooling towers, the typical, cone-shaped smokestacks seen in standard images of nuclear power plants, á la Homer Simpson's Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. In the meantime, FPL is currently locked into a plan to expand the plant at Turkey Point, and build two new reactors, numbers six and seven, by roughly 2030. But the plan clashes with climate change initiatives, as the uranium mining, upkeep, and waste disposal still leave a sizable carbon footprint on the earth. Nuclear generation and plant-building also remain expensive businesses, as costs for solar and wind energy continue to plummet. (FPL, which made a $1.6 billion profit in 2015, also just raised rates on consumers by $811 million in order to build a backup natural-gas power plant, at a time when environmentalists warn that new fossil-fuel infrastructure could lock the Earth into increasingly catastrophic levels of warming.) Despite these facts, FPL remains committed to expanding Turkey Point — and has proposed storing nuclear wastewater, including radioactive waste, inside the aforementioned boulder zone. Environmentalists now say they're worried the waste from the new reactors could leak straight into Miami-Dade drinking water. This plan has sparked two legal fights — one challenge was thrown out earlier this year, but a longstanding legal fight from SACE and the NPCA could force FPL to reconsider its expansion plans.
Update: An FPL spokesperson provided the following statement to New Times:
First and foremost, Florida Power & Light Company remains committed to operating Turkey Point safely and protecting both the environment and public health, and that commitment extends to implementing the terms and conditions of the Consent Order we agreed to with the state of Florida. That includes fact-based solutions that will result in improved water quality in the area, including the current removal of 14 million gallons of hypersaline water each day from underneath the cooling canals. To that end, we are also actively working towards the construction of a system of wells that will safely remove and dispose of the hypersaline water going forward. Our sophisticated modeling shows this well system will improve water quality around Turkey Point and reduce the size of the hypersaline plume over time, drawing back hypersaline water from both the west and the east.




Environmentalists' Lawsuit Could Derail FPL Plan to Store Radioactive Waste Beneath Water Supply
Miami New Times

URL: http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/envir ... ly-9088603
Category: Legal
Published: January 25, 2017

Description: Earlier this month, environmentalists were aghast when the feds shot down a last-ditch effort to prevent Florida Power & Light from storing radioactive waste beneath Miami's underground water supply. More than 1,500 people have now signed a petition demanding that lawmakers take action. But there's actually another ongoing legal fight that could still prevent FPL from storing the waste from two planned new reactors at Turkey Point in the Boulder Zone, an area 3,000 feet underground. Two environmental groups, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) and the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), filed a legal complaint back in 2010, objecting to FPL's proposal. Multiple government studies have warned that waste injected into the Boulder Zone could leak upward into the Floridan and Biscayne Aquifers. FPL, however, contends the Boulder Zone is "sealed" and cannot leak into sources of water that humans use. Despite FPL's repeated attempts to kill SACE's petition, the complaint still stands seven years later — and this coming May, SACE and the NPCA will finally get a legal hearing where FPL will be forced to reckon with environmentalists' concerns. "Their experts are trying to say these contaminants will not migrate into the aquifer," Sara Barczak, SACE's director for high-risk energy sources, tells New Times. "Our experts are saying there has already been migration, and it's likely there will be more migration if the new reactors are built." Roughly seven years ago, FPL first pitched the idea of a Turkey Point expansion to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the federal agency tasked with approving new nuclear-reactor construction sites. As part of that plan, FPL said it would store any new wastewater from the reactors, numbers six and seven, inside the Boulder Zone. SACE immediately interjected because environmentalists say the wastewater and radioactive material include carcinogens such as cesium, strontium 90, and tritium. This year, the group Citizens Allied for Safe Energy (CASE) filed a complaint challenging FPL's radioactive-waste plan for Turkey Point. The NRC shot down that filing this month on procedural grounds, claiming CASE had simply filed its petition too late in FPL's application process. But SACE and the NPCA filed on time, so their fight rages on. "In 2010, we pulled together experts, got together with the National Parks Conservation Association on a number of contentions, including nuclear waste issues," Barczak says. "Over time, not all our contentions were accepted, but our petition essentially addresses the same concern that CASE raised. Ours does not focus specifically on radioactive contaminants but instead focuses on other constituent contaminants. But the good news is, from an advocate’s point of view, we're still in the game." Wastewater, largely in the form of raw sewage, has been injected into the Boulder Zone since the 1960s. Environmentalists have long opposed the practice, claiming the waste could leak into Miami's drinking water supply. Radioactive waste dumping, which FPL is proposing, represents a new step in the anti-dumping fight. This month, Miami's Urban Paradise Guild started a Change.org petition to try to persuade lawmakers to make Boulder Zone dumping illegal. More than 1,500 people have signed. Caroline McLaughlin, the NCPA's Biscayne program manager, said her group joined SACE to fight FPL because of the unique threat Turkey Point poses to national parks in South Florida. "You couldn’t find a worse place to put a nuclear power plant," McLaughlin says. "It's at ground zero for sea-level rise." So, she says, the NCPA has long opposed expanding anything at Turkey Point. The federal government has not yet given the groups a hard date for their hearing with FPL, but Barczak and McLaughlin hope that after the meeting, the NRC will force FPL to come up with a new waste-storage plan. "The best possible outcome is that they’re going to have to go back and revise their Environmental Impact Statement to addresses the potential impacts of this," McLaughlin says. "We need a statement that guarantees there will not be significant impacts to the drinking water supply. We won’t accept anything less than that." In the meantime, Barczak and SACE, which fights for clean energy in multiple states in the South, notes that the type of reactor FPL wants to build at Turkey Point — the Westinghouse AP1000 — has been called "dangerous" and overly expensive by climate activists. Barczak and SACE also say FPL's expansion plan at Turkey Point is likely running billions of dollars over budget, making it less and less likely that the new reactors ever get built. But if they do, Barczak warns that the pressure for FPL to recoup its building costs could easily discourage the company from investing in more clean-energy initiatives such as solar and wind power. As long as FPL says it wants to build new reactors, SACE and the NPCA say they're demanding the utility company figure out some other way to store its waste from Turkey Point. "Their track record at the original facility is terrible, and they've threatened and impacted our national parks," Barczak says. "I don’t see them taking the high road to alleviate that situation, so why would we trust them to do the right thing with new reactors?"



FPL Wants to Store Radioactive Waste Under Our Drinking Water Supply
Miami New Times

URL: http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/fpl-w ... ly-8971822
Category: Legal
Published: December 7, 2016

Description: Florida is basically one gigantic hunk of porous limestone with pythons, buildings, and Medicare frauds sunning themselves on top. Underneath is South Florida's main source of drinking water, the Biscayne Aquifer, a pristine pool of underground liquid that's become increasingly susceptible to pollution and saltwater intrusion. Just below that sits another, deeper store of H2O called the Floridan Aquifer. Thanks to that porous limestone, water sometimes mixes between the two. And that's why it's more than a bit alarming that Florida Power & Light (FPL) is pushing ahead with plans to inject radioactive waste into the Floridan Aquifer's lowest zone over the next few decades, after building two new nuclear reactors in South Florida. Environmentalists contend the plan could leak carcinogens such as cesium, strontium 90, and tritium right into South Florida's largest drinking water source. Last week, a nonprofit environmentalist group that has frequently sparred with FPL, the Citizens Allied for Safe Energy (CASE), filed a formal petition to hold a hearing to stop the utility company's plan. The group filed November 28 — FPL now has 25 days to respond to the complaint. "Everything will be put into a supposedly 'hermetically sealed' boulder zone," CASE's president, Barry J. White, says, "but anybody who lives in South Florida knows nothing below us is hermetically sealed." An FPL spokesperson, Peter Robbins, provided the following statement to New Times:
After an exhaustive and comprehensive review of the proposed Turkey Point Units 6 & 7 project, including the plans to safely use reclaimed water for cooling, the independent Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s staff concluded "…there are no environmental impacts to preclude issuing Combined Licenses to build and operate two reactors next to the existing Turkey Point nuclear power plant." We will be reviewing the allegations made by CASE in this document, which was filed after the Environmental Impact Statement was issued, and will respond at the appropriate time. It’s important to note that the system will be closely monitored and is designed to ensure that upward flow from the Floridan Aquifer is not taking place.

But the radioactive-waste issue is just the latest flap for the utility monopoly. FPL recently won a yearlong fight to raise customer rates by $811 million despite turning a $1.6 billion profit last year. The company also wasted $8 million on a failed plan to deceive voters and make it harder for them to obtain solar panels for their homes. FPL's parent company also partly owns the Sabal Trail pipeline, which, if built, will controversially run from central Alabama, through Georgia, and down to Orlando. Protest camps have sprung up in three Florida cities to stop the pipeline's progress. The new radioactive-waste fight stems from FPL's long-standing plan to expand the much-ballyhooed nuclear plant at Turkey Point. The power company — a "legalized monopoly" within Florida that's long been accused of buying off the state Legislature with campaign cash — wants to build two new reactors, numbers 6 and 7, at the plant over the next decade or two. Earlier this year, Miami-Dade County officials said Turkey Point is almost certainly leaking radioactive waste into Biscayne Bay, though at levels that most scientists agree is safe for humans. After that news broke, FPL decided to postpone building the new reactors for four more years. That means the new towers won't be operational until roughly 2030. But the extended timeframe doesn't mean Miamians can stop paying attention to the project. FPL is applying for licenses to build the new towers, as well as crafting a host of plans to get the new wing operational. This includes a review from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which issued an environmental impact statement in May. As part of that plan, FPL says it plans to stash chemicals used to clean the reactors, as well as "radwaste" — waste that contains radioactive material — inside the so-called boulder zone. The zone, which sits about 3,000 feet below ground, is mostly rocky but does contain saltwater. Miami-Dade County has used the zone before to stash both treated and untreated sewage — but activists say that's no excuse for placing radioactive waste there. "Two wrongs don't make a right," White says. "I've always opposed dumping anything there." The feds must approve FPL's plan under a law called the National Environmental Policy Act, which stipulates that governmental agencies must take a "hard look" at any possible risks a plan like FPL's would pose. (The "hard look" provision is legally vague and sparks frequent fights among environmentalists, energy companies, and the government.) FPL initially applied to build the new reactors in 2009, but the government issued its final Environmental Impact Statement only this past October. The NRC allowed the project to move forward. But CASE says the government ignored a number of small but frightening details when it comes to storing radioactive waste underground: For one, government documents themselves say the Floridan's boulder zone could possibly leak into the ocean. According to CASE's complaint, the United States Ground Water Atlas, a government document, warns that the boulder zone "is thought to be connected to the Atlantic Ocean, possibly about 25 miles east of Miami, where the sea floor is almost 2,800 feet deep along the Straits of Florida." CASE's petition says the NRC failed to address this issue. "Liquid Radwaste? Into the Boulder Zone?" the petition says. "Our members probably have not even heard of that and, when they do, it will scare the daylight out of them. Even small, diluted amounts of radioactive waste will accumulate and concentrate radiation which is not confined like water and can be absorbed by plant life." More frightening, in January 2016, in a hearing related to Turkey Point Reactors 3 and 4, FPL's own engineer testified that the boulder zone could leak upward into the Biscayne aquifer — AKA, Miami-Dade's drinking water.
MR. ANDERSEN: Yes. I agree with everything Bill is saying. In addition, too, that there is an upward hydraulic gradient from the Floridan [Aquifer] to the Biscayne [Aquifer]. The Floridan is under pressure. Therefore, you have flow from the Floridan into the Biscayne and not vice versa.

Likewise, CASE cited a 2000 University of Miami study that also warned that material injected into the boulder zone can float to the surface. "Effluent injected from Turkey Point will flow up the surface’s gradient to the northwest and then probably north, where it will have many opportunities to encounter breaks in the permeability barrier in this lateral travel," the petition says. CASE says the NRC failed to investigate either of these issues as well. "Thus, as these two studies show, there is no guarantee that the discharges of harsh chemicals into the boulder zone will stay put," CASE warns. "It is more likely that they will migrate in all directions and, over time, pose a threat to the entire Biscayne Aquifer, which covers some 4,000 square miles in South Florida." White, who wrote the petition, faults FPL for clinging to a 20th-century business model too reliant on fossil fuels and nuclear energy. "They have ignored the potential of a different business model," White says. In his petition, he claims that the state could add $200 million in GDP from renewable energy sources — and that FPL could rake in a huge cut of that money if it commits to building clean energy sources. CASE also raised three other major issues with the new reactors, including that the two towers might suck far too much freshwater from the state's aquifers. "Our organization’s whole objective is to return Turkey Point to being a wetland," White says. "We don’t need it to be totally clear. They can put solar array down there. I wouldn’t even mind if they used gas. But they need to do it without impinging on the needs of the land." If the NRC doesn't listen, he says, his next step will be to try to get the attention of the Florida Legislature. "People have injected this waste into the land before, but not into a flowing body of water like this," he says. "How anybody who has an iota of conscience can put radioactive waste into a body of water that humans and animals use, it's like, 'Are you crazy? What are you doing?'"
User avatar
smix
 
Posts: 1804602
Images: 1
Joined: Sat Aug 10, 2013 8:05 am
Blog: View Blog (0)

Feds Say FPL Can Store Nuclear Waste Below Miami's Drinking Water Because It's "Not Likely" to Leak

Postby smix » Sun Jul 23, 2017 5:29 pm

Feds Say FPL Can Store Nuclear Waste Below Miami's Drinking Water Because It's "Not Likely" to Leak
Miami New Times

URL: http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/fpl-n ... es-9513910
Category: Politics
Published: July 23, 2017

Description: Florida Power & Light's Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station is already leaking dangerous salt water into the aquifers that are Miami's largest source of drinking water. Despite that alarming fact, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) recently ruled that FPL can move forward with a plan to build two new nuclear reactors and store nuclear waste — including radioactive material — in an area just below those same aquifers. Environmentalists warn a leak would threaten the water supply of 2.7 million people, but the feds last week ruled that such a leak is "not likely," and that even if one were to occur, it "would likely be detected and resolved prior to any significant release to the Upper Floridan Aquifer," one of Miami-Dade County's two water stores. The NRC's Atomic Licensing Board even acknowledged that wastewater at past FPL injection sites had leaked due to poor construction but claimed that new engineering techniques meant that FPL's new sites would be safe. The body also ruled that the concentrations of four harmful chemicals FPL wants to flush underground will not exceed current Environmental Protection Agency drinking-water limits. The NRC ruled that " the wastewater is unlikely to migrate to the Upper Floridan Aquifer; and even if it did, the concentration of each of the four contaminants would be below the applicable United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) primary drinking water standard and, accordingly, would pose no known health risk." Importantly, the legal challenge in question did not address the low-level radioactive waste FPL also plans to inject underground. (More on that in a second.) "Everything we were proposing either met or exceeded all federal standards and had been analyzed in great detail by experts and also would be closely monitored," FPL spokesman Peter Robbins told the Miami Herald, which first broke news of the ruling. In addition to two environmental groups — the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and the National Parks Conservation Association — the ruling directly contradicted the wishes of two South Florida city governments: The Village of Pinecrest and the entire City of [/i]Miami, which both begged the NRC to force FPL to rewrite its plans and find a different storage solution for the waste water. The Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority also independently has objected to FPL's plans to expand Turkey Point, which environmentalists say sits too close to multiple protected wetland areas and drinking-water sources. "FPL has failed to adequately demonstrate that the direct effect, indirect effects, and cumulative impact to the natural physical environment are 'small,'" Assistant City of Miami Attorney Xavier Albán said at last May's NRC hearing. "The environmental impacts will not be 'small.'" Environmental groups have warned that any chance the project could leak cancerous or radioactive waste into South Florida's drinking water should force FPL to reconsider its plans. But the NRC ruled last week that FPL had done enough due-diligence legally to move forward with its project. Sara Barczak, SACE's High-Risk Energy Choices Program Director, said that the ruling was expected from the NRC, which tends to side with power-plant operators over environmentalists. "We are disappointed but not surprised by the Board's decision, which doesn't change the fact that these expensive, water-intensive reactors at Turkey Point are unneeded, poorly planned, and the builder, Westinghouse, is bankrupt," Barczak said. "FPL's proposal (is) speculative and clearly a bad economic deal for FPL customers." Due to cost overruns at a nuclear site in Georgia, the company that was supposed to build FPL's new reactors, Westinghouse, filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, and FPL has not yet found a replacement builder. FPL still must pass through a series of regulatory hurdles before the project comes online some time after the year 2030. The NRC held a hearing last May to discuss the SACE-led challenge to the plan. The fight has stretched back for nearly a decade: FPL announced its plans to build new reactors in 2009, and SACE filed a legal complaint about the company's Environmental-Impact Statement in 2010. Despite numerous attempts to kill the complaint over multiple years, SACE's contention — that potentially dangerous carcinogenic chemicals, including heptachlor and tetrachloroethylene, could possibly leak into drinking water — stood. SACE's complaint did not address that FPL plans to inject "low concentrations" of radioactive waste into the Boulder Zone, a rocky area of brackish salt water that sits 3,000 feet below ground. A SACE representative previously told New Times that the organization filed a complaint so early in the permitting process that it did not know at the time that so-called "radwaste" would be injected underground. The NRC's ruling reads:
We find that the NRC Staff has shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the FEIS [Environmental Impact Statement] is correct in concluding that the environmental impacts from the deep injection wells will be “small” because (1) the wastewater is unlikely to migrate to the Upper Floridan Aquifer, see infra Part V.A; and (2) even if the wastewater were to migrate to the Upper Floridan Aquifer, the four contaminants at issue in this case will not adversely impact the USDW, because the pre-injection concentration of each contaminant is below its EPA MCL, or primary drinking water standard.

Miami-Dade County has injected raw sewage into the Boulder Zone for decades, since at least the 1960s. But environmentalists point to a 2015 United States Geological Survey study, which used a newer technique called "seismic imaging" to show that multiple fault lines and collapse-structures exist within the "confining layer" that separates the Boulder Zone from the Lower Floridan Aquifer. That governmental study specifically warned that, if those fault lines exist near waste-water injection sites, such as the one FPL is proposing, the waste could leak into drinking water:
The strike-slip fault and karst collapse structures span confining units of the Floridan aquifer system and could provide high permeability passageways for groundwater movement. If present at or near wastewater injection utilities, these features represent a plausible physical system for the upward migration of effluent injected into the Boulder Zone to overlying [EPA] designated [USDWs] in the upper part of the Floridan aquifer system.

But the NRC last week specifically rejected this claim, arguing that FPL had reasonably addressed those concerns. The challenge at hand dealt with four specific contaminants that FPL wants to flush underground — the pesticide heptachlor and industrial solvents ethylbenzene, toluene, and tetrachloroethylene. The NRC ruled that the concentrations of each chemical would remain below the EPA's Maximum Contaminant Levels for drinking water. The EPA also sets stricter, but voluntary, "Maximum Contaminant Level Goals," which the EPA says list “the maximum level of a contaminant in drinking water at which no known or anticipated adverse effect on the health of persons would occur, and which allows an adequate margin of safety.” The EPA sets its MCLG's at zero for potential carcinogens, but the NRC ruled that those guidelines are a "non-enforceable public-health goal," and that "treatment systems may not be able to effectively remove chemicals in their entirety from public water supplies." SACE has 25 days to appeal the ruling, and Barczak says the group is currently weighing its options. Nationally, power companies have begun to move away from building new nuclear plants, largely due to the fact that nuclear costs have gone up while costs for clean-energy technologies, including solar and wind power, continue to drop at steep rates. Environmental activists also note that nuclear is not a "clean" source of energy, as the uranium-mining process currently relies on fossil fuels and massive mining operations. "We are reviewing the Board's decision in order to determine our next steps," Barczak said. "Regardless, FPL has many, many hurdles to clear and this is just one step in a very long process. Unfortunately, FPL customers have already unfairly been charged more than $300 million towards this increasingly speculative project and we believe that must stop and FPL's shareholders must start shouldering the financial burden." A citizen-led petition to convince lawmakers to legislate against the plan now has more than 67,000 signatures.



State Senator Says FPL Isn't Preparing Miami's Nuclear Plant for Sea-Level Rise
Miami New Times

URL: http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/turke ... ns-9722390
Category: Politics
Published: October 5, 2017

Description: The Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station is built directly on the waterfront in Homestead — a location that has exposed the plant to serious natural disasters. The power plant survived Hurricane Andrew in 1992, but the storm's 175 mph winds knocked out communication lines, disabled the emergency fire-safety system, and "severely cracked" an exhaust stack that could have destroyed the plant's back-up power system if the stack had toppled, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. So while Florida Power & Light (FPL) proposes expanding Turkey Point and building two more reactors there, Miami state Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez is asking for safer measures to prepare for sea-level rise and major hurricanes — or for FPL to drop the expansion plans altogether. This past August 23, Rodriguez sent the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which regulates nuclear power plants, a letter demanding that FPL add greater sea-level-rise protections to its development plan. Rodriguez made the letter public this week because the NRC had scheduled a hearing today to move forward with Turkey Point's expansion plans; Hurricane Irma delayed the meeting, but it's still expected to happen by the end of December. Rodriguez is asking the NRC to continue to delay ruling on the plan's approval until FPL addresses the concerns of environmentalists and activists. "They're only taking into account one foot of sea-level rise in the future," Rodriguez tells New Times. "Some projections — we’re hopeful those projections are wrong — but some projections are orders of magnitude higher than that." Peter Robbins, an FPL spokesperson who specializes in nuclear energy issues, dismisses Rodriguez's concerns and says FPL has taken sea-level rise into account in its expansion plans of Turkey Point. "Projected sea-level rise and potential storm surge have both been considered as part of the application and design for all aspects of Turkey Point Units 6 and 7," Robbins says. "The units would be elevated approximately 26 feet above sea level and are specifically designed to withstand natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, flooding, and tidal surges. Further, the existing Turkey Point plant is also well protected against flooding, storm surges, and severe weather. The site successfully withstood the direct impact and associated storm surge from Category 5 Hurricane Andrew in 1992." But in his August letter to the NRC, Rodriguez laid out three specific concerns, which clean-energy activists opposed to FPL's expansion plans have voiced repeatedly: First, Rodriguez said Turkey Point's Combined Operating License application (COL) accounts for only a foot of sea-level rise by 2100 even though the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned last January that the seas could rise as much as 8.2 feet in that time period. Second, Rodrigeuz said he was upset the plan covered only the new reactors — Units 6 and 7 — that FPL plans to build and does not propose any changes for the existing reactors. Those are the same reactors attached to cooling canals that leak low-level radioactive waste into Biscayne Bay and salt water into Miami's drinking-water aquifer. Environmentalists have long complained that Turkey Point sits too close to protected parks and drinking-water sources. Third, the lawmaker added he thought FPL's applications did not properly account for what might happen to spent nuclear fuel rods that the plants produce. This is a national issue in the nuclear-power industry. A safe-nuclear-rod storage site in Nevada, called Yucca Mountain, was supposed to be built decades ago, but not-in-my-backyard politics have succeeded in delaying the plan indefinitely. Instead, nuclear plants are mostly forced to store spent radioactive rods onsite, which can pose safety risks if their containment pools malfunction during a natural disaster or terror attack. Spent fuel rods give off heat for decades and can release radioactive material into the air if improperly stored. "That also is obviously a huge concern all over the country," Rodriguez says. "There really isn't a plan for how these nuclear facilities store their waste." Anti-nuclear activists argue that if safely storing spent rods is this difficult, nuclear plants simply should not be built. Investigative comedian John Oliver earlier this eyar devoted a long segment on his HBO show Last Week Tonight to the nuclear-waste storage problem: FPL recently won the right to store low-level radioactive waste from the expansion site underground in a rocky zone, but some environmental activists worry the waste might leak into Miami's largest source of drinking water, the Biscayne Aquifer. Lawyers for the City of Miami asked the NRC to force FPL to rewrite its plan, but NRC regulators say FPL has done enough to mitigate those concerns. Rodriguez's latest letter comes amid scrutiny of FPL following Hurricane Irma. On September 11, Newsweek reported that FPL had not yet finished reinforcing Turkey Point against the elements before Irma arrived. According to NRC documents Newsweek obtained, Turkey Point's own operators told the NRC that the plant is still working to seal doors and improve floodwater-drainage mechanisms. As Irma made landfall, FPL shut down one of Turkey Point's two reactors but later had to shut the other reactor off during the storm because of an unrelated valve failure that did not result in radioactive leakage. According to Newsweek, the report said that poorly sealed exterior doors could lead to "substantial leakage" during a hurricane and that rooms holding cooling pumps "do not have a roof and are exposed to the rainfall." An NRC spokesperson told Newsweek that FPL's response to Irma was "completely appropriate," but activists were still troubled. Newsweek published the report by the Union of Concerned Scientists' Dave Lochbaum, who said the situation with the cooling-pump room made him anxious. "The pump room is Turkey Point's Achilles heel," Lochbaum told the magazine. "Without Component Cooling Water during an accident, workers must deploy backup to backup systems. At Fukushima [the Japanese plant that melted down after a 2011 tsunami, exploded, and released radioactive material into the air], workers were unable to accomplish this task in time to prevent three reactor cores from overheating." Asked about the Newsweek report, Robbins says the story is inaccurate. "I will not respond to anything that cites the Newsweek article as a source of information, as the article is highly misleading and in many cases totally false," Robbins tells New Times. "While we were trying to restore electricity to customers throughout our state after a major hurricane, Newsweek chose to provide a platform to spread lies and scare the public. The reporter took the opinions of anti-nuclear activists as fact and didn’t allow FPL the opportunity to respond." Other recent flooding events, however, suggest Rodriguez's concerns aren't entirely academic. In 2014, a major storm flooded FPL's St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant, which sits on a barrier island roughly 120 miles north of downtown Miami. According to Energy and Environment News — a trade publication specializing in law, politics, and safety in those industries — storm drains failed, allowing 50,000 gallons of water to flood one of the reactor's auxiliary buildings, flow through "improperly sealed" electrical passages, and disable "core cooling pumps." If the reactor had "tripped," or automatically shut down because of a serious situation, the reactor's emergency cooling pumps would have been underwater. Had that been the case, "after 24 hours, the plant would not achieve a 'safe and stable' condition and reactor core would be damaged, unless emergency recovery action succeeded," the NRC wrote. The NRC labels certain violations using four color codes — green, white, yellow, and red — depending upon the severity. In this instance, the flooding issues were a "white" violation, and the NRC increased its oversight of the St. Lucie plant. FPL says it has since corrected those flooding problems. (Earlier this year, FPL reassured residents living near the Turkey Point and St. Lucie plants that the units would survive a major flooding event.) "Miami-Dade residents deserve rigorous scrutiny of FP&L’s proposed expansion at Turkey Point, which could threaten our community’s safety," Rodriguez announced in a news release yesterday. "Storm surge and sea level rise have not been adequately taken into account at Turkey Point, especially important after witnessing bigger and stronger hurricanes hitting Florida."
User avatar
smix
 
Posts: 1804602
Images: 1
Joined: Sat Aug 10, 2013 8:05 am
Blog: View Blog (0)


  • Similar Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Return to Energy, Oil & Gas


Mobile Device
  • 1
  • FREE CLASSIFIED ADS
    Free Classified Ads
    There are 3 ways to advertise - your choice: you can place free ads in a forum topic, in the classified display ads section, or you may start your own free blog. Please select the appropriate category and forum for the ad content before you post. Do not spam.
    Caveat emptor - let the buyer beware. Deal at your own risk and peril.
  • Advertisement