Sitting adjacent to Biscayne National Park, the Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station has been leaking radioactive materials into protected waters, according to a new study.
Performed by Dr. David Chin from the University of Miami, the results released Tuesday morning by Miami-Dade County found high levels of a radioactive isotope in Biscayne Bay.
Those radioactive waters are coming from the power plant’s cooling canals, raising radioactivity levels 215 times higher than normally found in seawater, the report added.
“This is one of several things we were very worried about,” South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard told the Miami New Times. “You would have to work hard to find a worse place to put a nuclear plant, right between two national parks and subject to hurricanes and storm surge.”
Two weeks ago, a Tallahassee judge ordered Florida Power and Light Co., owner of the plant, and the state to clean up the cooling canals, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Past studies found the leaking canals were forcing a large plume of underground saltwater to move west, which posed a huge threat to a well field that provides the Florida Keys with its drinking water, the report added. I
ssues at the cooling canals have escalated since 2013, when the plant expanded to increase power output by 15 percent, the Times report also said. Water temperatures inside the canals rose to dangerous levels several times, especially during a 2014 drought. Despite near-shutdowns of the plant due to water temperatures rising as high as 102 degrees, the report added, nuclear regulators gave officials permission to allow the canals to reach 104 degrees, the hottest temperature of any plant in the country.
“How much damage is that cooling canal system causing the bay is a question to be answered,” Everglades Law Center attorney Julie Dick told the Miami Herald. “There are a lot more unknowns than knowns and it just shows how much more attention we need to be paying to that cooling canal system.”
FPL responded to the report, telling the Miami New Times it needs more time to review specific parts of the study, but reiterated the company is committed to the protection of Biscayne Bay. “Our top priority is the health and safety of the public, and there is no threat to the health and safety of the public,” Bianca Cruz, an FPL spokesperson, told the New Times.