National parks group: Nuclear plant expansion threatens Everglades

A proposal to expand Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant in South Florida would threaten Everglades restoration and the national park, according to a conservation group dedicated to protecting federal parks.

Florida Power & Light wants to add two new nuclear units, making Turkey Point one of the largest nuclear power facilities in the country.

This week, with the release of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s environmental impact statement on the proposal, the National Parks Conservation Association is challenging the project, saying it threatens the national park system, wildlife and Everglades restoration in Florida.

The NPCA says the proposal goes against the NRC’s own standards, which state, “Sites adjacent to lands devoted to public use may be considered unsuitable” and unacceptable impacts are “most apt to arise in areas adjacent to natural-resource-oriented areas.”

Therefore, the NPCA said, Turkey Point should not expand its operations because of its possible impacts to the ecological health and economic viability of surrounding protected areas.

Caroline McLaughlin, Biscayne program manager for NPCA, issued this statement to the press: “We have serious concerns about the expansion proposal for Turkey Point, especially considering the widespread contamination the plant’s operations has already caused in nearby water resources. If the expansion moves forward, it would double the number of nuclear towers, all located on the shores of the nation’s largest marine national park.

“You couldn’t pick a worse location to put a nuclear power plant than between two national parks and an area already vulnerable to storm surge and sea level rise. Biscayne and Everglades National Parks are home to threatened species like the wood stork, snail kite and West Indian manatee, and offer amazing recreational opportunities like boating, fishing, scuba diving and exploring. Both parks are key components of the ongoing, multibillion-dollar Everglades restoration investment. Collectively they welcome more than 1.5 million visitors that spend around $135 million annually, invigorating South Florida’s local economy.

“The amount of water required to operate the two new reactors, compounded with the current water quality and quantity concerns, puts Biscayne National Park in jeopardy. FPL would be allowed to draw fresh water from under Biscayne National Park, at the same time that we are trying to reestablish an increased amount of fresh water to the park through Everglades Restoration. The Turkey Point cooling canals are already contaminating Biscayne Bay and the Biscayne Aquifer. Adding two new reactors could exacerbate existing water quality problems. The wastewater injected underground from the new reactors could potentially pollute South Florida’s underground water supply. FPL’s mitigation plan to address the loss of wetlands due to the expansion is also inadequate, and therefore the Army Corps must conduct their own environmental analysis of the proposal and its impacts.

“NPCA, along with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and other individuals are challenging FPL’s application for a federal license for the two new reactors and are awaiting next steps within the legal process. We will continue to do all that we can to preserve Biscayne and Everglades National Parks, its natural resources and our drinking water.”