Emissions, New Projects, Nuclear, O&M, Policy & Regulations

Environmental Groups Threaten FPL with Lawsuit Over Turkey Point Pollution

In a press conference last week, environmental groups Tropical Audubon Society and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy announced plans to sue Florida Power & Light (FPL) in federal court. As reported by the Miami Herald, the suit comes in response to pollution concerns at the utility’s Turkey Point nuclear power plant near Homestead, Florida.

Turkey Point has recently come under scrutiny from Miami-Dade regulators for its leaking cooling canals. Though the canals are meant to operate as a closed system, the environmental groups contend they have been polluting Biscayne Bay and the Biscayne aquifer with tritium. While radioactive tritium is not itself dangerous at these sites’ present levels, the isotope is often monitored as a tracer of more dangerous pollutants that nuclear power plants might emit, including ammonia, phosphorus, and concentrated salt. Inland wells near the power plant have also shown elevated levels of pollutants.

At a press conference in front of Miami City Hall, representatives from both environmental groups were joined by Miami Democrat José Javier Rodríguez, who criticized state environmental regulators for inaction in the face of growing evidence that FPL is liable for the pollution.

A Tallahassee judge recently ordered FPL and the state of Florida to clean up the plant’s canals, concluding they were responsible for an underground saltwater plume that threatened drinking water sources to the west.

The environmental groups say if FPL does not take adequate steps to remedy the situation, pending legal action will ask state and federal regulators to act on FPL under the Clean Water Act. If regulators do not begin action within a 60-day period, both environmental groups say they will sue FPL for civil penalties and an injunction against continued violations.