The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued its environmental impact statement (EIS) on Florida Power & Light’s application to run Turkey Point for an additional twenty years.
FPL’s renewal application filed January 30, 2018 applies to generating station Units 3 and 4. Units 1 and 2 at Turkey Point are non-nuclear, being fueled by oil or gas.
The NRC’s subsequent license renewal process will decide if the reactors’ operations can be extended from sixty to a full eighty years.
The NRC said the environmental impact of renewing Turkey Point’s license to operate was so limited that it would be unreasonable to deny them. The National Park Service cooperated in producing the final EIS.
FPL issued this statement to the South Dade News Leader: We’re pleased with this step forward in Turkey Point’s subsequent license renewal extension.
We look forward to continuing the process of extending the operating licenses of Turkey Point The license for unit #3 currently expires July 19, 2032 and April 10, 2033 for unit #4.
NRC spokesman Scott Burnell explained the logic for applications extending unit licenses to 2052 and 2053 respectively.
“An initial license lasts forty years,” Burnell said from NRC headquarters. “A nuclear owner’s option is to renew twenty years’ at a time - FPL did that several years ago, extending the life of the units to 2032. When a plant is initially licensed, the owner must provide enough data for an information base for license renewal. Past age forty, the plant’s generated enough information to ask for a second renewal – which is what FPL is doing.”
As for the environmental analysis, Burnell said, “Alternative options were weighed to replace the current output of 1500 megawatts. These are larger units. The first option was to build two new plants, another was to run units with natural gas, and a final option was a combination of natural gas with solar. Current operation is the best advanced planning landmark.”
FPL’s application minus redacted proprietary details is available for public inspection at the Miami-Dade Main Library and at branch libraries in Homestead, Naranja and the South Dade Regional Library.
The 656 page EIS evaluated two “Category 1” issues – first, groundwater quality degradation from plants with cooling ponds in salt marshes. The second issue was cooling system impacts on terrestrial resources. Finally, NRC staff also considered water quality impacts on adjacent water bodies for Turkey Point. Chapter 4 of the report fully explains the EIS’s assessment of impacts of those issues as “Small”.
The report found the effect of operations on endangered species had no adverse impact except for the American crocodile and the eastern indigo snake.
The NRC said its staff considered public comments offered during community hearings in Homestead in May 2018 and in March 2019.
As part of the final EIS, the NRC said a final license renewal would include consideration of its staff’s July 2019 final safety evaluation report.