Feds Say FPL Can Store Nuclear Waste Below Miami’s Drinking Water Because It’s “Not Likely” to Leak via Miami New Times

Florida Power & Light’s Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station is already leaking dangerous salt water into the aquifers that are Miami’s largest source of drinking water. Despite that alarming fact, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) recently ruled that FPL can move forward with a plan to build two new nuclear reactors and store nuclear waste — including radioactive material — in an area just below those same aquifers.

Environmentalists warn a leak would threaten the water supply of 2.7 million people, but the feds last week ruled that such a leak is “not likely,” and that even if one were to occur, it “would likely be detected and resolved prior to any significant release to the Upper Floridan Aquifer,” one of Miami-Dade County’s two water stores. 

The NRC’s Atomic Licensing Board even acknowledged that wastewater at past FPL injection sites had leaked due to poor construction but claimed that new engineering techniques meant that FPL’s new sites would be safe. The body also ruled that the concentrations of four harmful chemicals FPL wants to flush underground will not exceed current Environmental Protection Agency drinking-water limits.


Sara Barczak, SACE’s High-Risk Energy Choices Program Director, said that the ruling was expected from the NRC, which tends to side with power-plant operators over environmentalists.

“We are disappointed but not surprised by the Board’s decision, which doesn’t change the fact that these expensive, water-intensive reactors at Turkey Point are unneeded, poorly planned, and the builder, Westinghouse, is bankrupt,” Barczak said. “FPL’s proposal (is) speculative and clearly a bad economic deal for FPL customers.”


The NRC’s ruling reads:

We find that the NRC Staff has shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the FEIS [Environmental Impact Statement] is correct in concluding that the environmental impacts from the deep injection wells will be “small” because (1) the wastewater is unlikely to migrate to the Upper Floridan Aquifer, see infra Part V.A; and (2) even if the wastewater were to migrate to the Upper Floridan Aquifer, the four contaminants at issue in this case will not adversely impact the USDW, because the pre-injection concentration of each contaminant is below its EPA MCL, or primary drinking water standard.

Miami-Dade County has injected raw sewage into the Boulder Zone for decades, since at least the 1960s. But environmentalists point to a 2015 United States Geological Survey study, which used a newer technique called “seismic imaging” to show that multiple fault lines and collapse-structures exist within the “confining layer” that separates the Boulder Zone from the Lower Floridan Aquifer.

That governmental study specifically warned that, if those fault lines exist near waste-water injection sites, such as the one FPL is proposing, the waste could leak into drinking water:

The strike-slip fault and karst collapse structures span confining units of the Floridan aquifer system and could provide high permeability passageways for groundwater movement. If present at or near wastewater injection utilities, these features represent a plausible physical system for the upward migration of effluent injected into the Boulder Zone to overlying [EPA] designated [USDWs] in the upper part of the Floridan aquifer system. 

But the NRC last week specifically rejected this claim, arguing that FPL had reasonably addressed those concerns.


A citizen-led petition to convince lawmakers to legislate against the plan now has more than 67,000 signatures.

Read more at Feds Say FPL Can Store Nuclear Waste Below Miami’s Drinking Water Because It’s “Not Likely” to Leak

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