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Friends of the Earth demands state regulator fix FP&L water pollution permit

Plane carrying the message “Gov. DeSantis: Fix FPL’s pollution permit” flew over hearing

HOMESTEAD, FL – At a Florida Department of Environmental Protection hearing today, Friends of the Earth called on Governor Ron DeSantis and state regulators to reject a revised wastewater discharge permit for Florida Power & Light’s aging Turkey Point nuclear reactors. In addition to public testimony from the group, a plane carrying the message “Gov. DeSantis: Fix FPL’s pollution permit” flew over Homestead during the hearing. (Pictures here.)

The environmental organization warned that a design flaw in the cooling system at the antiquated 1960-era nuclear reactors has caused widespread contamination endangering Biscayne Bay and the Biscayne aquifer – the sole source of drinking water for millions of people in Southeast Florida. The design flaw also threatens to cause algae outbreaks in Biscayne Bay.

“At Turkey Point, Florida Power & Light’s cooling system transfers about one million pounds of salt into the ground per day, and it has contaminated the drinking water for over 4 miles around their nuclear power plant,” said David Guest, attorney for Friends of the Earth. “FP&L knows that they are contaminating the drinking water aquifer and are doing experiments to see if the contamination can be slowed – the right answer is just to stop. The aquifer being contaminated has been designated as the sole source drinking water aquifer for Southeast Florida under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Governor DeSantis needs to step in and put an end to this because FP&L is just trying to save money by avoiding cooling system upgrades.

At other nuclear power plants in the US and around the world, discharged cooling water is fed through cooling towers. FP&L has fought against building such a system and is refusing to pay for what has otherwise become an industry standard. Florida Power & Light is asking DEP to change the definitions of pollution and allow their contaminated discharges to continue, which poses a serious risk to the drinking water of millions of Floridians in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties.. The new standard FP&L is pushing for would allow 15 teaspoons of salt per gallon of drinking water, 30 times higher than the safe level in drinking water.

FPL’s recent application to the Federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission to extend the operating license for the Turkey Point reactors into the 2050s has raised additional concern about decades of additional damage to the Biscayne Aquifer and Biscayne Bay. Running the nuclear reactors into the middle part of the 21st century has raised significant questions about the dangers posed by Turkey Point’s outdated reactors and nuclear waste storage, which are not designed to withstand the sea level rise, water inundation, massive hurricanes, and searing drought conditions that climate change is forecast to create on Florida’s Atlantic coast.

“Continuing to run Turkey Point for thirty more years makes no sense,” said Damon Moglen, Senior Strategic Advisor to Friends of the Earth. “The power needed from these decrepit and outdated nuclear reactors can simply be replaced by cheaper, cleaner, safer greenhouse-gas free renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy storage technologies.”

Contact: Erin Jensen, (202) 222-0722, ejensen@foe.org

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