Radioactive contamination linked to the Miami-area Turkey Point nuclear power plant is entering Biscayne Bay, a new study (pdf) shows.
The findings of the University of Miami study were released this week by Miami-Dade County, and showed increased salinity as well as “tritium levels up to 215 times higher than normal in ocean water,” the Miami Herald reports.
The problem is that the water used to cool the Florida Power & Light (FPL) plant is not being contained to the canal system it set up for that purpose.
The study “shows conclusively that the cooling canal water is polluting and contaminating Biscayne Bay,” Miami Waterkeeper Rachel Silverstein told local news NBC6.
That contamination, according to Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), “is threatening South Florida’s drinking water supply and Biscayne National Park.”
The problems at the plan began years ago, as the Herald continues: “After the 2013 plant expansion to increase power output by 15 percent, the canals began running dangerously high,” and it then got the OK “from nuclear regulators to operate the canals at 104 degrees, the hottest in the nation.” FPL attempted to address the high temperatures by pumping fresh water into the canals, but that just worsened and expanded a saltwater plume.
“This study confirms that FPL miscalculated the impact uprating Turkey Point’s reactors to generate more power would cause,” Laura Reynolds of SACE said Tuesday. “They continue to make record profits while our water supply gets loaded with at least 600,000 pounds of salt daily and our national park is polluted and drinking water is threatened.”
The location of the plant is a problem itself, critics have charged.
Philip Stoddard, South Miami Mayor and biological sciences professor at Florida International University, told the Miami New Times: “You would have to work hard to find a worse place to put a nuclear plant, right between two national parks and subject to hurricanes and storm surge.”
Rep. Jose Rodriquez responded to the report by calling for federal action. “I have watched with increasing alarm the potential public safety threat emanating” from the facility, he wrote to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.
“State regulators have, unfortunately, failed to adequately [protect the public] and I ask for your agency’s direct involvement.”
NBC6‘s Tony Pipitone adds: “A former head of DEP is now a top FPL executive and the company gives millions of dollars to Florida politicians.”