Florida Power & Light Co. is working to proactively deal with water quality issues identified at its Turkey Point nuclear plant cooling canal system, including deep pockets of ammonia found in four Biscayne Bay monitoring wells on the plant’s property, the company’s president and CEO Eric Silagy said.
Silagy said Wednesday that Juno Beach-based FPL is not to blame for high levels of the nutrient because it comes from decomposing vegetation.
“There is no impact on drinking water or on Biscayne Bay,” Silagy said. “You have these pockets of deep water. They’re not getting flushed by the natural action of the bay like you normally get. This is an issue that is not uncommon around Florida.”
A Miami-Dade County study released March 7 found high levels of ammonia and of tritium, a by-product of nuclear power generation. Tritium levels were up to 215 times higher in Biscayne Bay than in the ocean, the report stated.
Silagy said the water’s tritium levels are nothing to be alarmed about and are 78 percent below what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says is safe for everyone from babies to the elderly to drink.
At a March 8 Miami-Dade County Commission meeting, Lee Hefty, director of the county’s Department of Regulatory & Economic Resources, said he planned to issue a notice of violation against FPL.
Silagy said he and other FPL executives met with Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and other Miami-Dade County officials Monday.
FPL has proposed pumping out the pockets where ammonia was found. The water will be placed back in the 5 billion gallon canal system where it will have no impact. The company is awaiting a county permit.
“We are working to come up with a solution to basically pump it out,” Silagy said.
Tere Florin, spokeswoman, Miami-Dade County Department of Regulatory & Economic Resources, said DERM staff is currently reviewing all relevant data in order to support appropriate and defensible regulatory action. A violation will likely be issued, but it’s now known when that will be.
The plant south of Miami-Dade County has a 168-mile closed canal system. The canals act like a giant radiator to cool the water before it is circulated back to the condenser for reuse.
In February an administrative law judge ruled that the plant’s canal system is the major cause of an underground saltwater plume that has moved 4 to 5 miles west of the plant and continues to spread.
Judge Bram D.E. Canter recommended that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection approve a new plan for FPL to fix the cooling canals.