FPL plan to improve conditions near Turkey Point’s cooling canal system reaches important approval milestone with State. Read more >
Biscayne Bay Water is Safe
The water in the Bay is far cleaner in terms of tritium than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standard for safe drinking water. For more than five years, FPL and state and local agencies, in coordination, have closely monitored tritium along with other elements (e.g. salinity and nutrients).
"We can have confidence in the conclusion that the current [situation] does not pose an adverse impact on Biscayne Bay or on public health. "– Wesley Bolch
Professor and Dean for Academic Affairs
Department of Nuclear & Radiological Engineering, University of Florida
"Turkey Point… was recognized with the top industry award for land management and environmental stewardship. "– Bill Johnson
Former President and CEO, Enterprise Florida, Coral Gables
"I have worked closely with FPL and found them to be a reliable and responsible partner."– Jose Abreu
Former Florida DOT Secretary
"FPL is truly a good neighbor and environmental steward."– Alex Penelas
Former Miami-Dade County Mayor
"There is absolutely no adverse impact to drinking water, safety or public health."– Eric Silagy
FPL President and CEO
"There is nothing to panic about."– The Miami Herald
March 19, 2016
"Close monitoring around Turkey Point shows tritium in levels that do not pose a risk to the public or to aquatic life."– Christine Whitman
Former Governor of New Jersey
"FPL has been transparent about the current issues associated with Turkey Point's cooling canals and what they are doing proactively to resolve them."– Kevin Doyle
Consumer Energy Alliance
"I know how important it is to keep our utilities accountable, but presenting out-of-context information doesn’t serve the public’s interest."– Luz Weinberg
Former Vice Mayor, Aventura
Member, Clean and Safe Energy Coalition
There is absolutely no adverse impact to drinking water, safety or public health.
There is not now, nor will there be, any lasting adverse impact on Biscayne Bay.
FPL continues to work openly with local, state and federal authorities to identify and implement near and long-term solutions.
How do Turkey Point’s cooling canals work?
All power plants, including Turkey Point, need water to help keep equipment cool. Turkey Point is located on Biscayne Bay, but it doesn’t use Bay water for cooling the plant. Instead, it uses a closed loop of canals for its cooling water.
Watch the video to learn more.
Information & Resources
View and download public documents related to Turkey Point Nuclear Plant and Biscayne Bay.
- Florida Department of Environmental Protection Consent Order (June 20, 2016)
- State of Florida Department of Environmental Protection Notice of Violation (April 25, 2016)
- State of Florida Department of Environmental Protection Warning Letter (April 25, 2016)
- Florida Power and Light Company Turkey Point Class I Permit Modification (regarding L-31 water use) (April 8, 2016)
- State of Florida Siting Board Final Order (regarding Floridan aquifer wells) (April 5, 2016)
- Turkey Point Plant Comprehensive Post-Uprate Monitoring Report Units 3 & 4 Uprate Project (March 31, 2016)
- Report on Recent Biscayne Bay Water Quality Observations associated with Florida Power and Light Turkey Point Cooling Canal System Operations (March 7, 2016)
- United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission Annual Assessment Letter for Turkey Point Units 3&4 (March 2, 2016)
- Miami-Dade County Consent Agreement (October 6, 2015)
- Turkey Point Plant Annual Post-Uprate Monitoring Report Units 3 & 4 Uprate Project (August 2014)
Cutting-edge environmental modeling confirms FPL plan to improve groundwater salinity near Turkey Point's cooling canal system
- New, advanced modeling indicates FPL's plan to remove hypersaline water will improve groundwater quality
- Long-term solutions to meet standards and improve conditions continue to move forward
FLORIDA CITY, Fla., April 29, 2016 -- Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) today announced that advanced three-dimensional modeling supports its long-term plan to remove hypersaline water from underneath and near the cooling canal system at the Turkey Point Power Plant complex.
The modeling, which incorporates data from airborne electromagnetic (AEM) surveys conducted by helicopter, enables scientists from FPL and other organizations to more accurately identify the location of hypersaline groundwater and to develop additional plans for its removal.
FPL's plan is based upon data collected from dozens of monitoring stations, state-of-the-art groundwater mapping technology, detailed 3-D modeling of groundwater and a comprehensive review and analysis of technical data by independent experts. The plan includes the safe removal of hypersaline groundwater from the shallow Biscayne aquifer.
"We have been consistent in our position that we need to follow the science, not the politics," said Randy LaBauve, FPL Vice President of Environmental Services. "A data-driven, science-based approach ensures that we're taking the right actions at the right time to improve the situation. While it will take time to reverse the hypersaline plume in an environmentally responsible manner, this new data will help us achieve faster results and allow us to leverage the progress we are already making."
In addition to the plan to remove hypersaline water, FPL is using brackish water from the Floridan aquifer in the cooling canal system to help keep salt levels in the cooling canals in balance with the salinity of Biscayne Bay. This system, which has been approved by the state of Florida's Siting Board and Department of Environmental Protection, is expected to commence operations this summer and be fully operational by year's end.
The approval of the Floridan aquifer system contributed to FPL's ability to forego water withdrawals from the L-31 canal, a decision that was supported by environmental groups, such as Audubon Florida, and other stakeholders.
"We look forward to continuing to work with key stakeholders – including Miami Dade County, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and South Florida Water Management District, as well as environmental organizations – in improving the cooling canal system and surrounding area," said LaBauve.
FPL's Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant continues to operate safely as it has for more than 40 years, generating zero-carbon energy to power hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses in a county that typically imports half of its electricity from outside the county during peak summer electricity use times. The recent water quality challenges involving the cooling canal system do not impact the safety of the plant or public health.
For more information, visit FPL's educational website, www.TurkeyPointFacts.com.
Florida Power & Light Company
Florida Power & Light Company is the third-largest electric utility in the United States, serving more than 4.8 million customer accounts or more than 10 million people across nearly half of the state of Florida. FPL's typical 1,000-kWh residential customer bill is approximately 30 percent lower than the latest national average and, in 2015, was the lowest in Florida among reporting utilities for the sixth year in a row. FPL's service reliability is better than 99.98 percent, and its highly fuel-efficient power plant fleet is one of the cleanest among all utilities nationwide. The company was recognized in 2015 as one of the most trusted U.S. electric utilities by Market Strategies International. A leading Florida employer with approximately 8,800 employees, FPL is a subsidiary of Juno Beach, Fla.-based NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NEE), a clean energy company widely recognized for its efforts in sustainability, ethics and diversity, and has been ranked No. 1 in the electric and gas utilities industry in Fortune's 2016 list of "World's Most Admired Companies." NextEra Energy is also the parent company of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, which, together with its affiliated entities, is the world's largest generator of renewable energy from the wind and sun. For more information, visit these websites: www.NextEraEnergy.com, www.FPL.com, www.NextEraEnergyResources.com.
SOURCE Florida Power & Light Company
For further information: Florida Power & Light Company Media Line: 561-694-4442
Our Turkey Point Team Members: Passionate About Safety
Hear from Turkey Point’s Site Vice President
"Turkey point is 100% safe. We place safety as our overriding priority in everything we do. We would never compromise the safety of our employees, our families, or the public."
Turkey Point Site Vice President
A Turkey Point employee's perspective on safety
“As an engineer, and more importantly as a mother, I want you to know that the plant is safe and Biscayne Bay is safe.”
Adriana de la Torre
Engineer at Turkey Point Nuclear Plant
Letters to the Editor
A recent column by Steve Torcise, Jr., the president of a south Florida rock mining company, about Florida Power & Light Company’s Turkey Point Power Plant near Homestead, is so misleading that I felt compelled to correct the record. Unfortunately, Mr. Torcise is letting his personal agenda overshadow the facts of the issue. And at FPL, facts matter.
For decades, FPL enjoyed a productive, cooperative relationship with its rock mining neighbor, Mr. Torcise and his company, Atlantic Civil Incorporated. Lately, however, Mr. Torcise has been anything but neighborly, rarely missing an opportunity to publicly attack FPL.
Atlantic Civil claims to be worried about the intrusion of saltwater along the east coast of Florida, in particular near Turkey Point. No one disputes that saltwater intrusion exists; in fact, it exists throughout Miami-Dade County and existed long before the Turkey Point Plant was built. It’s correct that throughout the 40 year operation of the Turkey Point facility, very salty – or hypersaline – water has formed in the existing saltwater aquifer under the area. It’s also correct, but not acknowledged by Mr. Torcise, that FPL has accepted responsibility and is executing a plan to safely remove that water and dispose of it.
Mr. Torcise claims the state and FPL have failed at every turn to stop saltwater intrusion. This is simply not true. Numerous monitoring programs required and approved by state and local agencies are in place to better understand the issues, and a series of actions have been taken since 2009 to address the problem.
Mr. Torcise also is calling on our state leaders and regulatory agencies to get involved, rather than recognizing the significant time and resources that they have already devoted, and continue to spend, working on this important issue. FPL has been working with the state Department of Environmental Protection, the South Florida Water Management District and the Miami-Dade County Department of Environmental Resource Management to implement solutions that will protect the long-term health of the environment around Turkey Point.
It’s important to point out that where Atlantic Civil has injected itself into the process, the only result has been significant delay. Atlantic Civil’s legal maneuverings slowed one FPL project down by more than a year, wasting precious time and customers’ money with its disingenuous posturing. At the end of the day, the rock mine’s arguments were soundly rejected by the judge and only served to delay our efforts to restore water quality and improve critical habitat for threatened crocodiles.
FPL always tries to be a good neighbor, even when we disagree with the person on the other side of the proverbial fence. We find it outrageous and irresponsible that Mr. Torcise would attempt to scare people by invoking Flint, Michigan, a true public safety crisis that is affecting thousands of families, only to advance his own personal agenda. Undeniably, FPL is taking action to address its contribution to saltwater intrusion and is committed to doing the right thing at Turkey Point. We urge anyone interested in the truth to visit www.turkeypointfacts.com.
Michael Sole is Vice President of State Governmental Affairs for Florida Power & Light Company.
04/25/2016, Michael Sole, Tallahassee Democrat, Op-Ed
Anti-nuclear-power groups will use any excuse to undermine the broad public support for clean and safe nuclear energy. Recent events at Florida Power & Light's Turkey Point plant in Homestead show how desperate these groups have become.
FPL has been transparent about the issues associated with Turkey Point's cooling canals and what the company is doing proactively to resolve them. State and federal regulators confirm that Turkey Point is safe, that no animal or plant life in the area has been adversely impacted, and that water-quality levels in the canals and in Biscayne Bay are well within the standards of the Clean Water Act.
The Consumer Energy Alliance believes that our government experts know best how to enforce the laws and protect our environment. We believe that FPL has proven to be a safe and reliable nuclear operator, with an impressive record of environmental stewardship.
Only a few years ago, the American crocodile was removed from the endangered species list, in part due to FPUs conservation efforts at Turkey Point. Misinformation, scare tactics and lawsuits might be ways for anti-development groups to boost their fundraising and Twitter followers, but fair-minded Floridians should trust what they know.
Nuclear energy has been an affordable, reliable and clean source of energy in our state for more than four decades, and it's a big part of our state's bright future.
04/11/2016, Kevin Doyle, Palm Beach Post, Letter to the Editor
For more than a century, the southeast coastal region of Florida has undergone major development activities, including earthworks for flood control; draining wetlands to make lands available for agriculture, and diverting fresh water to its use; building coastal residential communities; and rock-quarry mining.
For decades, concerns have been raised about the impacts to the environment, including increased salinity in Biscayne Bay and underground aquifers. As the former chairman of the Environmental Regulation Subcommittee of the Florida House of Representatives, I have been involved in these issues for two decades.
Honest and sincere concern is legitimate. Certainly, there have been long-term trends toward warmer water and increased salinity. Thoughtful, accurate, technical analysis by true experts is important. But recently, these circumstances are being leveraged as a new version of a tactical "blame game" in the ongoing attack on a single power plant that provides electricity to the region.
A handful of local politicians, aligned with an anti-nuclear club, are seizing upon recent increases in water temperature within the cooling canals of Florida Power & Light Co's. Turkey Point Nuclear Plant that has been operating successfully for years. These activists are blaming the plant for increased levels of salinity and certain pollutants.
It is true that saltwater intrusion and pollution have existed. There are many causes. Land mining and water excavation may have contributed. A system is in place to analyze any potential contributions from the power plant.
Federal, state and local government regulatory agencies are actively engaged. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection have applied technical analysis and regulatory proceedings.
After a review, the NRC engineers concluded that: 1) The impact was small. If the cooling canals ever reached the maximum, it would be for a short time, would not occur very often and would be unlikely to impact the salinity levels; and 2) The increase in the temperature would not cause increased salinity to the point that it would threaten nearby aquifers.
Some local politicians, aligned with the anti-nuclear club, do not like this conclusion. They claim that the NRC engineers did not properly analyze the effect of warming and salinity in the cooling canals as it relates to saltwater intrusion.
The plant operator has pointed out that samples taken from the cooling canals show the ammonia and phosphorous levels were much lower than what was already in the Biscayne Aquifer.
So the federal Atomic Safety Licensing Board has investigated to ensure that the NRC review was conducted thoroughly. ASLB judges operate pursuant to the Atomic Energy Act.
The local politicians, grandstanding with unsubstantiated claims, do not have such technical expertise. Cooler heads need to prevail. We must be cautious, to avoid jumping to false conclusions that could cost Southeast Florida residents. This is not a time for election-year politics. It is a time to calmly assess these conditions and to consider the results of the ASLB hearing, which should be released within 90 days.
Jerry Paul, Tallahassee
Editor's note: Jerry Paul is a nuclear engineer. He formerly served as the principal deputy administrator of the U.S. National Nuclear
By Dr. David Roelant
Much has been written about radioactive tritium near nuclear facilities across the country. As a university researcher with expertise in radiation protection and safety, I often see information and opinions that use language to create a sense of fear in the public. My hope here is to offer a response that is more objective from a safety and risk perspective.
Tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen, is created at measureable levels every second of every day from the bombardment of cosmic radiation with our upper atmosphere. This is normal and contributes a small fraction to the natural background radiation dose on Planet Earth. The amount of radionuclides such as tritium that exists in our “background” varies somewhat depending upon where we live.
A recent study measured elevated tritium concentrations in Biscayne Bay with one sample having 215 times that of the background level. Although it appears the increased tritium can be attributed to cooling canals at the Turkey Point nuclear plant, the elevated tritium samples are from only four isolated, artificial, deep trenches and not representative of water in the bay, much less water extracted for drinking.
The one sample that measured 215 times the local tritium background level is 22 percent lower than the drinking-water standard for tritium as set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is 0.00000002 Curies per liter (or 6.2 parts per trillion tritium to hydrogen). For perspective, one part per trillion is equivalent to about one drop of tritium inside an Olympic-sized swimming pool that contains 288,000 gallons.
This drinking-water standard for tritium was determined from an acceptable annual dose of four millirem that one would receive by drinking water at this maximum allowable contamination level every day for a year.
How does four millirem compare to our daily dose from other sources? We all receive nuclear radiation continuously from many sources, such as radioactive radon gas, radioactivity found in soils and construction material, smoke detectors in our homes and all food we consume. The average annual radiation dose in the United States is 620 millirem. About half of this is from natural sources, and the other half is from medical sources.
In 1987, the average dose in the United States was 360 millirem, with 15 percent from medical procedures. Therefore there was an increase in average background radiation dose of 260 millirem from 1987 to 2006. The number of nuclear medicine procedures in the country since 2006 has increased more than 20 times; hence the average radiation dose today is likely significantly higher than the 620 millirem determined in 2006. This information is offered in comparison to the four millirem one would receive if one were to drink water for a year at the maximum allowable tritium level allowed.
All food is radioactive. The bananas, nuts, and carrots I eat each year as part of a healthy diet contribute to more than 15 millirem of my annual dose. So, are the elevated levels seen from those isolated artificial, deep trenches adjacent to Biscayne Bay a safety concern? No. Its relative risk is well below that of actions I take daily.
Tritium and radiation are around us every day. Nuclear radiation is monitored closely. The release of radioactivity from coal piles and from medical facilities greatly exceeds that from nuclear power facilities, and these industries are all regulated differently.
What does this all mean? The four-millirem annual dose from consuming water for a year at the maximum allowable tritium levels would contribute less than 1 percent to the average annual radiation dose to the public. The public drinking water supplied to neighborhoods around nuclear facilities is typically at less than 10 percent of the maximum allowable tritium level.
The maximum allowable concentrations for radionuclides in the drinking water in the United States is conservative and safe. The local drinking water in the Biscayne Bay, and Southeast Florida’s drinking water, is well below these maximum allowable concentrations.
Facts matter. Science matters. Let’s keep this issue in perspective to the level of risk. Let’s not get lost in facts, figures or opinions that are not presented in a way to allow the public to understand the real risks.
DAVID ROELANT IS THE INTERIM RADIATION SAFETY OFFICER AND A RESEARCHER AT FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY.
After reading the Herald’s recent editorial regarding our Turkey Point nuclear facility, I felt it important to set the record straight and reassure the public that FPL is working aggressively to address challenges facing the site’s cooling canals – an essential system that we were federally mandated to construct. Unfortunately, there has been a considerable amount of misinformation and sensationalism in the media and online. Some of the confusion is no doubt due to the technical nature of nuclear plant operations, and some of it is being promoted purposely by interests with their own underlying agendas.
Regardless, as President and CEO of FPL, I want readers to know that I am personally involved to address the issues, and want to ensure that – if nothing else – three fundamental things are clear:
- There is absolutely no adverse impact to drinking water, safety or public health;
- There is not now, nor will there be, any lasting adverse impact on Biscayne Bay; and
- FPL continues to work openly and proactively with local, state and federal authorities to ensure all safety and environmental issues are continuously addressed. We will identify and implement near and long-term solutions to ensure the canals are functioning properly, now and for years to come.
That said, some critics have sounded the proverbial alarm regarding the level of tritium recorded at monitoring wells in the area, implying that the level of tritium is dangerously radioactive. Such a claim couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, tritium is a naturally occurring radiological element that is present throughout the earth, created when the sun’s rays hit the atmosphere. In fact, tritium also is commonly found in the water we drink, and as a result, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has established very clear standards for safe tritium levels in drinking water. Of course, no one drinks water directly from the bay, but if we did, it would be perfectly safe by EPA tritium standards. In fact, the highest tritium level recorded in the bay adjacent to Turkey Point is 78 percent safer than the EPA standard. Unfortunately, you wouldn’t know that from reading the editorial, which made an outrageous and inappropriate comparison to the situation in Flint, Mich. The simple truth is our water is not impacting the water supply or Biscayne Bay and poses absolutely no threat to public health.
At FPL, we pride ourselves on being leaders, and not waiting for others to tell us what to do, particularly in the areas of safety, environmental stewardship and compliance. That’s why we’ve been taking action to improve water quality for over a year. Our environmental experts and engineers have made tremendous progress to reduce salinity and improve the overall water quality in the canals. Our team is working daily, hand-in-hand with Miami-Dade County, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the South Florida Water Management District and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and we will continue to do so until all issues are completely resolved.
Our company has proudly served South Florida for more than 90 years, and we believe deeply in doing the right thing for our customers and neighbors. Of course, we’re not perfect and we know there’s always room for improvement. That’s why we’re tackling these challenges head on, and you have my personal commitment that we will develop workable solutions that ensure Turkey Point continues to safely provide clean energy to Miami-Dade for many years to come.
Florida Power & Light Company
President and CEO
“Don't overreact to Turkey Point release”
Letter to the Editor
South Florida Sun Sentinel, March 16, 2016
El Nuevo Herald, March 29, 2016
There's been a lot of discussion about the safety of Turkey Point nuclear energy facility recently. As a neighbor of Turkey Point, I believe we should all take an interest in the safety of nuclear energy facilities. However, as a former administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency, I know these discussions can be complex and sometimes based on misinformation.
The recent tritium release at Turkey Point is such an example. Tritium is a naturally occurring, mildly radioactive form of hydrogen that is commonly found in the water we drink. The EPA has clear standards for safe tritium levels in drinking water, and close monitoring around Turkey Point shows tritium in levels that do not pose a risk to the public or to aquatic life. In fact, levels in Biscayne Bay are only a fraction of the EPA's drinking water standard.
The independent Nuclear Regulatory Commission monitors performance at nuclear facilities each day and three inspectors have 24/7 access to the facilities and operating records at Turkey Point. In addition, the nuclear energy industry has a groundwater monitoring program that identifies and then takes steps required to protect the environment nears its reactors.
It's critical that those of us who rely on Turkey Point, which produces clean electricity for 900,000 homes, have the facts about this facility so we can make smart decisions about our energy future.
Christine Todd Whitman
Key Largo, Clean and Safe Energy Coalition co-chair
"Misinformation About Nuclear Plant Thriving"
Letter to the Editor, Sun-Sentinel
March 30, 2016
Anti-nuclear power groups will use any excuse to undermine the broad public support for clean and safe nuclear energy. Recent events at FPL’s Turkey Point plant in Homestead show how desperate these groups have become.
FPL has been transparent about the current issues associated with Turkey Point's cooling canals and what they are doing proactively to resolve them. State and federal regulators confirm that Turkey Point is safe, that no animal or plant life in the area has been adversely impacted and that water quality levels in the canals and in Biscayne Bay are well within the standards of the Clean Water Act.
The Consumer Energy Alliance believes that our government experts know best how to enforce the laws and protect our environment. We believe that FPL has proven to be a safe and reliable nuclear operator with an impressive record of environmental stewardship. Only a few years ago, the American crocodile was removed from the Endangered Species List in part due to FPL’s conservation efforts at Turkey Point.
Misinformation, scare tactics and lawsuits might be typical ways for anti- development groups to boost their fundraising and Twitter followers, but fair-minded Floridians should trust what they know. Nuclear energy has been an affordable, reliable and clean source of energy in our state for more than four decades, and it's a big part of our state's bright future.
Consumer Energy Alliance
Turkey Point, which has been operating safely for more than 40 years, has recently received undue attention for tritium found in the cooling canals. Unfortunately, what critics have failed to note is that the highest level of tritium found is nearly 80 percent safer than the EPA standard.
Critics also fail to highlight that Turkey Point has been recognized with the top award for environmental stewardship and land management. It provides a favorable habitat for endangered species and preserves the surrounding wetlands. Let’s not forget it is a critical source of affordable power. Through the efficiency of the plant’s employees, the facility keeps customers’ electric bills low.
As a former commissioner and vice mayor of Aventura, I know how important it is to keep our utilities accountable, but presenting out-of-context information doesn’t serve the public’s interest.
Member, Clean and Safe Energy Coalition, Aventura
Florida Power & Light has been in the news lately related to Turkey Point’s impact on the local environment. What has been missing from the discussion is FPL’s longstanding role as a responsible corporate leader in our state and important contributor to Florida’s economic well-being.
For many years, I have worked closely with FPL’s leaders and know firsthand their commitment to doing the right thing for the people of Florida and to preserving our environment. Turkey Point has operated safely and reliably in Miami-Dade County for more than 40 years and recently was recognized with the top industry award for land management and environmental stewardship. FPL continues to work openly and proactively with local, state and federal authorities to ensure safety and environmental issues are continuously addressed.
FPL’s president and CEO, Eric Silagy, is a member of the Enterprise Florida board of directors, and I can attest that his first priority has always been the health and safety of the public. I would hope the public keeps this in mind when judging one of our state’s leading corporate partners.
Former President and CEO, Enterprise Florida
“Turkey Point won’t be a problem”
Letter to the Editor, South Florida Sun Sentinel
April 6, 2016
Recently there have been concerns related to FPL's Turkey Point nuclear energy facility. As a civil engineer, I have coordinated a significant amount of work with FPL through the years and can say they have always come through with solutions for our projects.
During a 20-year tenure with the Florida Department of Transportation, I have worked closely with FPL and found them to be a reliable and responsible partner. FPL consistently approached every task swiftly and diligently, whether working on the day-to-day utility conflict coordination and/or scheduling issues or during emergency repairs such as the restoration of power to hundreds of thousands of Floridians after major hurricanes.
I can therefore deduce that they will be equally responsive with the issues associated with the challenges faced at Turkey Point.
Former Florida DOT Secretary
“FPL does great work for South Florida”
Letter to the Editor, South Florida Sun Sentinel
April 6, 2016
During my tenure as mayor of Miami-Dade County, I worked with companies across Florida on countless projects. I always found FPL to be an outstanding corporate citizen and few projects benefited the community as much as FPL's.
Although I can't meaningfully comment on issues currently affecting its Turkey Point nuclear facility, I am confident that FPL is working diligently to address those issues and the impacts to the surrounding environment.
I can attest, however, that during my time as mayor, I had no better partner when managing almost two dozen named storms that impacted Miami-Dade County. FPL was always the first to man our Emergency Operations Center, and well before storm landfall and despite not knowing the exact areas of impact, the company would dedicate significant resources to our community to expedite the expected recovery. As a local elected official on the front lines of the community's needs in those situations, FPL was an invaluable partner.
It is for that reason and many others that I know FPL is truly a good neighbor and environmental steward, and I am certain that the company is working around the clock to ensure that its Turkey Point facility will continue to provide South Florida with safe and reliable clean energy.
Former Miami-Dade County Mayor
“Turkey Point Tritium Levels Well Below Hazardous to Life”
Palm Beach Post
The recent public discussions about water quality in Biscayne Bay near the Florida Power & Light Co. Turkey Point nuclear plant have resulted in a healthy dialogue. As an environmental engineer and professor specializing in radiological health physics, I have been pleased to see so much interest. This helps to further public knowledge.
As a nuclear scientist, I have also been pleased to see input by people emphasizing that “science matters.” For example, I was encouraged by a recent column by the former administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, who pointed out that the EPA has strict standards for safe tritium levels in drinking water and that the agency closely monitors these levels to ensure that there is no risk to public health or aquatic life.
Like many natural elements on Earth, hydrogen has some forms (“isotopes”) that emit radiation. Tritium is one of those isotopes of hydrogen. This isotope occurs naturally in our environment. Its radiation is a relatively low-energy particle known as a “beta,” which is essentially an electron like those that flow through electrical wires that power our light bulbs.
There are many types of radiation, such as radiation from the sun, high-energy “gamma” radiation, and X-rays. The beta radiation emitted from the tritium form of hydrogen is at such a low level that it has little ability to penetrate the biological tissues that compose our bodies.
Moreover, tritium is an isotope of hydrogen that comprises water. So when tritium is mixed with water, its dilution with all other hydrogen atoms in the water makes its effect on humans even further diluted and remote.
Of course, as with sunlight and X-rays, quantity matters. For this reason, we establish threshold levels (“doses”) and a unit of measurement so we can make decisions regarding human activity based upon safe vs. unsafe quantities. We establish these regulatory standards based upon scientific and biological research, coupled with testing.
America typically sets its allowable radiation-dose thresholds very high, so as to be conservative. The EPA, for example, does not allow tritium levels in drinking water to exceed a level of 20,000, measured in units called “pico-curies per liter” of drinking water (or pCi/L).
Based upon the measurements reported in a recent Miami-Dade County report, the highest measured level of tritium in Biscayne Bay is 4,300 pCi/L — less than 25 percent of the regulatory threshold.
Throughout my career as a nuclear and radiological scientist, I have interfaced with regulatory agencies throughout the world, including America’s EPA and Nuclear Regulatory Commission. I am very familiar with their processes for establishing the safe regulatory-dose thresholds for radiation and their procedures for monitoring and accountability.
I cannot speak to situations unrelated to my areas of expertise. But as to tritium, we can have confidence in the conclusion that the current level of 4,300 pCi/L does not pose an adverse impact on Biscayne Bay or on public health.
Professor and Dean for Academic Affairs
Department of Nuclear & Radiological Engineering
University of Florida
Turkey Point Power Plant
Our Turkey Point plant generates enough power to supply the annual needs of more than 900,000 homes.Learn More
Protecting You and the Environment
Nuclear energy is America's largest source of clean-air electricity.Learn More
Saving American Crocodiles
Since 1978, the Turkey Point Monitoring Program has tagged more than 6,000 hatchlings.Learn More