Tag Archives: environmental impact

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.”

Enbridge pipeline project fuels concerns

Proponents and opponents of Enbridge Energy’s plan for new pipelines crossing into Wisconsin to Superior testified recently at Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources hearings on the project.

The Enbridge plan

Enbridge owns the largest pipeline network in Wisconsin and it’s Sandpiper project involves building a new 30-inch diameter pipeline from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale region through Minnesota to Superior. This pipeline would carry about 375,000 barrels of crude oil each day.

The company also wants to replace an aging 34-inch Line 3 pipeline with a 36-inch pipeline. This pipeline would carry 760,000 barrels of oil a day from western Canada.

Both pipelines would enter into Wisconsin from Minnesota and cross about 14 miles of land in the town, village and city of Superior to the company’s terminal.

enbridge routes
A map shows the existing Enbridge Energy lines and the “preferred route” for a new Line 3 and the Sandpiper pipeline. — Image: Enbridge Energy via DNR

Public response

In public comment collected by the DNR at hearings March 10, Douglas County Administrator Andy Lisak said the county backs the Enbridge plan because replacement of Line 3 would be safer than allowing the existing pipeline to remain and expanding the pipeline network could mean fewer trains and trucks hauling oil.

Lisak also testified that the pipeline projects would benefit the local and state economies; he referred to the DNR’s draft environmental impact statement indicating construction would employ 400-500 people.

“Enbridge’s multibillion dollar investment in these projects will help ensure the company’s future in Douglas County as one of the county’s largest and most socially and environmentally responsible employers,” he said.

However, opponents emphasized many jobs created by Enbridge’s expansion would be temporary.

Additionally, opponents pointed to Enbridge’s record on accidents.

The Canada-based company is responsible for 800 pipeline spills since 1999 in its Lakehead System and more than 100 wetland violations during the construction of Wisconsin’s “Line 61” pipeline.

Enbridge also is responsible for the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history — the 2010 tar sands spill in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

In Minnesota and Wisconsin, the new pipelines would run through sensitive habitat and, in Minnesota, they would cross tribal land.

Another concern for environmentalists is how the expansion ties into other Enbridge efforts in Wisconsin.

“The oil carried by these pipelines will not stay in Superior,” said Elizabeth Ward, conservation programs coordinator for the Sierra Club-John Muir Chapter in Wisconsin. “The 14 miles the DNR is studying is one small chunk of a much larger pipeline network that brings dirty tar sands across the border and fracked Bakken oil through Wisconsin and will carry this oil south.”

The state, said Ward, must “study the full impacts of the full network, including the resulting pipeline that will travel through some of Wisconsin’s most important waterways,” including the St. Croix River.

Enbridge’s project faces permitting hurdles in Minnesota, which led Ward to suggest the DNR’s hearings were premature.

“Whether these pipelines will even be permitted in Minnesota is unknown,” she said. “Moving forward on 14 miles of a pipeline when the other 1,450 miles of the pipeline is still up in the air is inappropriate and should be delayed.”

The DNR is collecting public comment on its draft environmental impact statement until March 25.