News Feature | December 22, 2016

Florida Power Company Wants To Store Radioactive Waste In Water Supply

Dominique 'Peak' Johnson

By Peak Johnson

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Over the last few months, Florida has experienced issues with drinking water and the environment.

Gov. Rick Scott even enacted a new rule requiring that the public be made aware of pollution accidents after a sinkhole had been discovered by Mosaic Co. in late August at its fertilizer plant in Polk County.

According to a statement from the governor’s office, Scott told Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Jon Steverson to create an emergency rule that would require the “department, the public and local governments be notified within 24 hours of a pollution incident by the responsible parties.”

Now, according to the Miami New Times, Florida Power and Light (FPL) is moving forward 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 argue that this plan could leak “carcinogens such as cesium, strontium 90, and tritium” into South Florida's largest drinking water source. Earlier this month, the Citizens Allied for Safe Energy (CASE) filed a formal petition to hold a hearing in order to halt FPL’s plan.

"Everything will be put into a supposedly 'hermetically sealed' boulder zone," CASE's president, Barry J. White, told the Miami New Times, "but anybody who lives in South Florida knows nothing below us is hermetically sealed."

FPL spokesperson, Peter Robbins, provided the following statement to the Miami New Times:

After an exhaustive and comprehensive review of the proposed Turkey Point Units 6 and 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.

Despite turning a $1.6 billion profit sometime last year, FPL recently raised customer rates by $811 million. 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.

This new interest in storing waste comes from FPL’s “long-standing plan to expand the much-ballyhooed nuclear plant at Turkey Point,” the Miami New Times reported. The company wishes to construct new reactors at the plant over the next few years.

Miami-Dade County officials, earlier this year, stated that “Turkey Point is almost certainly leaking radioactive waste into Biscayne Bay,” though it is reported at levels that most scientists believe to be safe for humans.

After this news was released, FPL decided to postpone building the new reactors for four more years.

For similar stories visit Water Online’s Source Water Contamination Solutions Center.

Image credit: "Nuclear Power Plant, August 2005" Jeramey Jannene © 2005 used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/