Protecting Miami Communities
The Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant, located just outside of Miami, Florida, has been operating for over 40 years. For those 40 years, Turkey Point has been contaminating the Biscayne aquifer — the source of most of the drinking water used in South Florida — and producing radioactive waste that is common for the nuclear industry. But, instead of taking advantage of the numerous economic, safe and clean renewable energy options, the Florida Power & Light Company requested to double the length of its license of Turkey Point. That extension would have happened without a proper assessment of the potential climate change impacts on the plant’s nuclear reactors — an assessment that is critical to prevent any nuclear exposure or contamination that could come from major storms, sea level rising, and cooling water problems over the years.
Knowing that doubling the lifespan of theTurkey Point plant could be catastrophic, Friends of the Earth, joined by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Miami Waterkeeper, filed contentions calling for an environmental review for subsequent license renewal. The legal challenge cited U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regulations and identified flaws in the analysis of sea level rise, groundwater impacts, and endangered species.
Experts at Friends of the Earth, NRDC and Miami Waterkeeper emphasized the need for a full National Environmental Policy Act review as Turkey Point’s reactors are already outdated. But the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board rejected our contentions initially, a huge failure by a board responsible for ensuring plants like Turkey Point were operating safely.
Thankfully, the NRC reversed their decision and ordered operators to conduct a full environmental review before allowing the plant to run for another 20 years! Overturning the extensions reversed a dangerous precedent to let nuclear units operate for decades beyond the lifespan of its reactors — especially as aging units are more likely to harm the environment and continue to pile up nuclear waste.
This is a huge win for the protection of Miami area communities and our overall ecosystem, changing the tides to properly assess this obsolete, dangerous industry! But until we’ve eliminated dirty energy, we will continue in our fight to promote a healthy world — this win is only the first of many steps we must take to protect communities and the environment.