Nuclear Plant Leak Threatens Drinking Water Wells in Florida

We wrote about the reactors at Turkey Point on March 9th because it was concluded that their old cooling canal system was leaking polluted water into Biscayne Bay.

For obvious reasons, this raised alarm among county officials and environmentalists about the potential damage being done to the bay’s surface water and fragile ecosystem. In fact, over the past two years, the bay water near the plant has seen a large saltwater plume slowly edge toward drinking wells several miles away; wells that supply water to millions of residents in Miami and the Florida Keys.

Tuesday, environmentalists announced they are planning to sue Florida Power & Light for violating the federal Clean Water Act, unless it addresses the problem. At various depths the water around the plant continue to show elevated levels of salt, ammonia, phosphorous and tritium(the radioactive isotope found in nature but often associated with nuclear power plants). The tritium, is a marker for scientists, allowing them to track the flow of canal water into the bay. In December and January the levels were much higher than they should be in the ocean- still not high enough to harm people- but something must be done.

Not surprisingly, Robert L. Gould, a spokesman for Florida Power & Light, insisted that the state’s drinking supply and the bay’s health were fine; the issues remain closest to the plant, including the plume which is about four miles away from the drinking wells. “I really need to stress that there is no safety risk: There is no risk to the bay or to the drinking water. The way it’s been portrayed by some is simply unfair. It’s extremely misleading,” reports the NY Times. Instead, Gould says that the high salinity levels, which have been cut in half from their high point, are due to the drought in 2013 and 2014- not the plants two nuclear reactors.

However, many people feel differently. Jose Rodriguez, a Democratic member of the Florida House, has called on the federal government to intervene, citing the amount of salt being dumped into the aquifer as something that should have caused action to take place.

And he’s not alone. From the NY Times article:

“We now know exactly where the pollution is coming from, and we have a tracer that shows it’s in the national park,” said Laura Reynolds, an environmental consultant who is working with the Tropical Audubon Society and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, which intend to file the lawsuit. “We are worried about the marine life there and the future of Biscayne Bay.”

Noting that the Biscayne Aquifer is an important natural resource, Florida administrative judge, Bram Canter, chastised Florida Power & Light’s cooling canal system for the damage its done. As the major cause for the large underground saltwater plume, he’s ordered the state and the company to clean up the cooling canals.

We will continue to monitor this story and bring you updates.

Source: NY Times