FPL Nuclear Plant Impacting Biscayne Bay: Miami-Dade County

Hot, salty water leeching from cooling canals at the Turkey Point nuclear power plant is negatively impacting Biscayne Bay, Miami-Dade county commissioners were told Tuesday.

Fueled by a county study that connects water from the plant with surface waters of the bay, a parade of environmental activists called on the county to issue a violation notice to the plant's owner, Florida Power and Light.

County Mayor Carlos Gimenez is prepared to give a presentation to the commission later Tuesday.

Elevated levels of ammonia, phosphorus and salt were detected after FPL was forced to increased water in its cooling canal system in order to cool it below the 104-degree maximum temperature allowed for entering the plant.

The connection to the plant was established by detection of tritium, an isotope of hydrogen found in elevated levels in water that passes through a nuclear power plant. The highest levels in the waters of the bay are only about one-fifth of the level allowed by the EPA for drinking water.

So, FPL notes, the presence of tritium itself is not a concern.

But the elevated presence of nutrients in the bay, now being directly tied to the plant, concerns environmental activists and others interested in protecting the waters.

Other data show FPL's plant is polluting the aquifer as far as five miles outside the plant's boundaries, adding salinity to the underground body of water relied on for drinking, irrigation and manufacturing.

A state administrative judge last month found the state Department of Environmental Protection has failed to hold FPL to account for polluting the environment.

A former head of DEP is now a top FPL executive and the company gives millions of dollars to Florida politicians.

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