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Massive nuclear plant plan near Everglades delayed by court via Florida Politics

A massive nuclear plant expansion proposed by Florida’s largest electric utility must be redone to meet environmental and other concerns near Everglades National Park, a state appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami reversed a 2014 decision by Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet to approve construction of two nuclear reactors by Florida Power & Light at its Turkey Point plant near Homestead. The project, costing up to $18 billion, would add about 2,200 megawatts of electric power or enough to supply 750,000 homes.

A three-judge panel ruled the governor and Cabinet failed to account for environmental regulations meant to protect the Everglades and endangered birds that make their home in the wetlands. Part of the plan includes erecting about 90 miles of transmission lines that would skirt the eastern edge of Everglades National Park and slice through several cities.

The court found that Florida Power & Light should be required to bury the power lines at the utility’s expense; that a proposal to fill in about 137 acres of right-of-way would affect critical water flow; and that proposed access roads would have to be elevated at some points.

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One of the major failings of the 2014 decision, the judges found, was that it did not apply local development regulations and considered the proposal more of a zoning matter than an environmental one.

“The east Everglades is a unique section of land with a biologically diverse ecosystem,” the order says. “The ultimate purpose of the (county Everglades ordinance) is to protect the environment of the Everglades.”

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is holding public comment meetings on the reactor plan later this week, one in Homestead and one at Florida International University. Opposition has focused on such concerns as how the reactors would handle rising sea levels, if evacuation plans are adequate and whether the reactors might threaten waterways and drinking supplies.

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