Turkey Point Expansion Hinges on Water for New Reactors

Apr 25 - The
> Miami Herald
> Water may well be the key issue in determining whether Florida
> Power & Light gets permits to build two more nuclear reactors at
> Turkey Point, environmentalists and federal officials said at a
> meeting in Homestead.
> In the first meeting between the public and the staff of the
> Nuclear Regulatory Commission in an approval process that will go on
> for years, a packed hall of more than 200 people heard a half-dozen
> environmentalists raise concerns about the 80 or 90 million gallons of
> water a day that will be needed to absorb the heat of the reactors.
> The current reactors are using water recycled through a series of
> cooling canals on the property.
> Kahlil Kettering of the National Parks Conservation Association
> noted that the nuclear reactors are nestled next to Biscayne Bay and
> within a short distance of the Everglades and Biscayne national parks.
> That's "like operating a power tool next to the Mona Lisa. You have to
> be very careful with that."
> He said the water issues meant that the Turkey Point licensing
> process was "going to take a lot more hours" of environmental review
> than other nuclear plants would require. NRC staff member Andy Kugler,
> who will be in charge of the environmental review of the FPL
> application, said he already had talked to officials at the national
> parks, who also had water concerns.
> The water problems are so complex that the Turkey Point licensing
> process was "going to take a lot more hours" of environmental review
> than other nuclear plants would require.
> FPL is working with the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department to
> find a way to use treated waste water to cool the reactors.
> "If built, these additional units will comply with all existing
> environmental regulations," FPL spokesman Tom Veenstra said Friday.
> "There
> is no threat to the water supply from existing operations or the
> proposed new units."
> Still, others had concerns. Jonathan Ullman of the Sierra Club
> said his group was bothered that the new Turkey Point units, which
> could still be operating near the end of the 21st century, were at one
> of the lowest elevations in the state of Florida. Scientists warn that
> if global warming trends are not curtailed, much of the Florida
> coastline, including the nuclear facility, could be under water by
> then.
> Dawn Shirreff of Clean Water Action asked about the idea that
> some of the Turkey Point water would end up far underground through
> "deep-well injection." Kugler said that technique had not been tried
> before with nuclear plants but in other usages, the contaminated water
> "came back to the drinking water aquifer sooner than expected."
> Other speakers emphasized the economic benefits of the project.
> Bill Riley, an official with the International Brotherhood of
> Electrical Workers, said nuclear power was "one of the cleanest and
> safest ways to provide electricity."
> Union member Mark D. Painter told The Miami Herald that nuclear
> construction means "we get to work. Our kids get to eat."
> Steven Scroggs, FPL's manager for the new nuclear project, said
> the proposed expansion could inject billions of dollars into South
> Miami- Dade for construction, and the units, when finished, would add
> "800 full- time, high-paying technology jobs."
> Several speakers raised questions about safety issues at the two
> existing reactors -- including guards found sleeping on the job and a
> contract worker with a criminal past who had been allowed on the site
> and drilled a tiny hole that ended up costing FPL millions in fuel
> charges.
> Maria Roberts asked about the senior nuclear operator David
> Hoffman, who quit abruptly in February 2008 after he said he was asked
> to restart a reactor in an unsafe manner. Scott Stewart, NRC's senior
> resident inspector at Turkey Point, said the reactor was ultimately
> restarted safely but that the operator's allegations were "under
> review."
> Meanwhile, Turkey Point Unit 3 is still shut down, after a
> control rod broke in the reactor last week when operators attempted to
> restart the unit after a shutdown for refueling. Since then, workers
> in protective gear inside the containment building have been
> attempting to repair the control rod drive mechanism.
> On Monday, crew leader Randy Woodard lost his footing near the
> reactor head and fell four feet. Still in his protective suit, he was
> rushed to Baptist Hospital, where an emergency team in protective gear
> treated him and admitted him, according to a report on the NRC's
> website. Woodard was in the hospital at least four days.
> FPL told the NRC a minor amount of radiation was found on
> Woodard's clothing but none on his skin. FPL said a platform has been
> installed to prevent similar falls.