A gray dinosaur statue outside south Florida’s largest power plant is meant to symbolize two decommissioned fossil fuel reactors, but it also could be seen to represent a nuclear industry crumpling under mounting costs.
Almost a decade ago, Turkey Point was aiming to become one of the country’s largest nuclear plants.
Florida Power and Light had argued that such expansion was needed to maintain diverse energy sources and to supply Florida’s booming population for years to come, while touting nuclear as a clean form of energy.
But now, just three reactors are in operation – one natural gas and two nuclear reactors, built in the 1970s.
And plans to build two more nuclear reactors—first announced in 2009—are essentially on hold for at least four years, according to filings with the state’s Public Service Commission.
Critics have pointed to the rising seas from climate change, risks of storm surge, radioactive waste and threats to drinking water and wildlife at the site, nestled near Everglades National Park, as reasons to stop nuclear expansion.
Complaints have also centered on the difficulty of evacuating the densely populated area around the plant in case of emergency. Miami-Dade County is home to 2.6 million people.
Time never came
Throughout Florida, FPL is expanding its solar installations, and is shuttering coal plants.
Its energy mix is 70 percent natural gas, 17 percent nuclear, with the rest divided between solar, oil and coal.
Meanwhile, the ever-dropping cost of natural gas is making nuclear less attractive every day, analysts say.
“Most people think Turkey Point will never get built,” said Mark Cooper, senior research fellow at the Institute for Energy and the Environment, Vermont Law School, referring to FPL’s proposed two new nuclear reactors.
“It turns out it was not the environmentalists, it was not the lawsuits,” Cooper told AFP.
“They could not deliver a safe, economically viable product. They couldn’t do it in the ’80s and they can’t do it today,” said Cooper.
“Nuclear power is a technology whose time never came.”
Read more at Why nuclear could become the next ‘fossil’ fuel