Florida Power and Light may operate cooling canals around Turkey Point at higher temperatures, nuclear regulators say, despite a festering algae bloom that has clogged the waterway, made water hotter and threatened to shut down two reactors.
Cooling the nuclear reactors in southern Miami-Dade County with hotter water from the canal won’t pose a risk to safety or harm the environment, the regulators said in response to an application from the utility last month to increase water temperatures to 104 degrees. Several times this summer, with power demand high, FPL reported that canal water approached or exceeded a 100-degree limit, which requires the reactors to be shut down.
FPL hastily cooled the canals by pumping water from the Floridan aquifer, but asked for the new temperature limit to deal with warming trends and below-average rainfall.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission expects to finalize the new operating restrictions in the next few days, said spokesman Roger Hannah.
But environmentalists worry increasing temperature limits won’t address a bigger problem: a 2013 plant expansion that demands more and more water to operate.
“Florida cannot generate energy with this much water consumption,” said Laura Reynolds, executive director of Tropical Audubon. “It’s in direct conflict with Everglades restoration and that really is the heart of the problem.”
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