Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station

By Owen Keller, SFSU, 2017

Turkey Point, a nuclear generating station located in Homestead, Florida. It was developed in 1973 and is positioned between the Biscayne National Park and the Everglades National Park, and under a half mile directly across is a wildlife refuge for crocodiles and State Botanical sites[1] TPNGS is one of the only nuclear generating stations left that uses cooling canals as their heat rejection source and these canals are the reason for their pollution, as they are prone to leakage[2] This bay is home to lots of aquatic life, all of which are being threatened not only ecologically but also commercially[3] Within a 10-mile radius there is a population of about 200,000 people with the majority of the population being Hispanic and of low income[4] These people have been enduring the harmful effects that have come from TPNGS for more than 4 decades now and have yet to see any change. The only progress the people of Homestead have seen was when TPNGS tried to expand their station a few years back, but luckily these plans of expansion were stopped through criticism of the city and other issues[5] Since the development of this site, the Biscayne Bay has been accumulating lots of harmful chemicals, which are now reaching the Biscayne Aquifer and threatening to contaminate Florida’s main source of drinking water[6] In this analysis I will further explain the energy injustice that has arose in Turkey Point nuclear generating station, where it is clear that the community of Homestead, Florida are facing an act of Environmental Racism.

Turkey Point nuclear generating station located in Homestead, Florida. (Acroterion 2012)

Turkey Point Cooling Canals
Cooling Canals of Turkey Point. (ENERGY.GOV 2014)

Turkey Point has been the source of an environmental injustice towards a specific group of marginalized people; low-income Latinos living in the cities of Homestead and Florida City. These people are having to endure the negative effects from the Turkey Point nuclear station, in which has been slowly leaking harmful chemicals into the Biscayne Bay only a few miles from their homes[7] Though these chemicals that are being leaked into the bay are not the only source of harmful chemical exposure they are potentially facing, but also the pollution in the air they breathe[8] A large majority of the people living in Homestead and Florida City are migrant agricultural workers, who are working outside for almost all of the day and potentially breathing in harmful polluted air[9]

The environmental problem associated with this site is mainly due to what TPNGS use for a heat rejection source, instead of using cooling towers as every other nuclear site in the country, they use cooling canals that are in total about twenty square miles long[10] These canals are prone to leakage and many environmentalists argued, trying to fight the production of them in 1973. The Florida Power and Light company should have taken the arguments of environmentalists into consideration, as these canals have been leaking into the bay for quite some time[11] The reason for building these cooling canals was mainly a way to save money at the time and at the expense of polluting the Biscayne Bay, which is home to many ecosystems. Last year researchers at the University of Miami took a sample of the Biscayne Bay water and ran tests on it to discover that the nuclear generating station had in fact infested the bay with an increase of more than two hundred times the normal level of Tritium (a radioactive form of hydrogen)[12] This pollution in the bay is threatening to contaminate South Florida’s main drinking source, which is the Biscayne Aquifer[13]

Both Homestead and Florida City are located only a few miles away from Turkey Point and within a ten-mile radius the population is about two hundred thousand people which are predominantly Hispanic and below the poverty line[14] This community has been unable to voice their own opinions about this pollution caused by Turkey Point and many environmental activists along with the community have tried to speak up for years but nothing has changed. These people have been hushed by the Florida Power and Light company and have endured this act of Environmental Racism, in which a minority community is subjected to the exposure of pollutants and denied their rights to clean natural resources. This community has been facing the denial of their rights to clean air and clean bay water since the early seventies, nearly forty-five years. Homestead has seen only two victories and chances of fighting back, one being the tests that the University of Miami did on the bay waters proving the seriousness of contamination it has been accumulating. The other victory they have achieved was a few years back when the Florida Power and Light company tried to expand Turkey Point and put in another nuclear generating station, but these plans failed to proceed mainly due to criticism of the people in nearby cities[15] A big criticism Florida Power and Light faced was the fact that the these cooling canals had been producing an extremely salty water which was leaking underground and into the bay, threatening the contamination of Biscayne Aquifer, a main source of drinking water for Florida[16] These discoveries were successful in stopping the expansion of Turkey Point for the time being, though this only halted the expansion for up to four years[17] The people nearby Turkey Point are going to be facing a lot more pollution in the time to come, due to the rising of sea levels, especially in these coastal areas of Florida and the extremely large and powerful hurricanes that Florida has been facing, this pollution from Turkey Point is only going to worse and worse.

REFERENCES

[1] Elfrink, T. (2017). Turkey Point Nuclear Plant Is Pumping Polluted Water Into Biscayne Bay. Retrieved from http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/turkey-point-nuclear-plant-is-pumping-polluted-water-into-biscayne-bay-8304252

[2] Iannelli, J. (2017). Florida Keys Demand FPL Stop Using Leaking Turkey Point Cooling Canals. Retrieved from http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/florida-keys-demand-fpl-stop-using-leaking-turkey-point-cooling-canals-9142718

[3] Staletovich, J. (2016). Is Biscayne Bay radioactive? 11 things you need to know. Retrieved from http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article67095367.html

[4] U.S.NRC. (2016). Construction and operation of Turkey Point nuclear plant units 6 & 7.” Final Environmental Impact Statement Reader’s Guide, 14-15.

[5] Staletovich, J. (2015). Mayors make case against FPL nuclear expansion. Retrieved from http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article18627960.html

[6] Alvarez, L. (2016). Nuclear Plant Leak Threatens Drinking Water Wells in Florida. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/23/us/nuclear-plant-leak-threatens-drinking-water-wells-in-florida.html

[7] Staletovich, J. (2016). Florida cites FPL for Turkey Point cooling canal violations. Retrieved from http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article74044347.html

[8] U.S.NRC. (2016).

[9] U.S.NRC. (2016).

[10] Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station. (2017). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkey_Point_Nuclear_Generating_Station

[11] Staletovich, J. (2016).

[12] Chin, D.A. (2016). The Cooling-Canal System at the FPL Turkey Point Power Station  2-13. Retrieved from http://www.miamidade.gov/environment/library/reports/cooling-canal-system-at-the-fpl-turkey-point-power-station.pdf

[13] Alvarez, L. (2016).

[14] U.S.NRC. (2016).

[15] Staletovich, J. (2015).

[16] Staletovich, J. (2016).

[17] Bureau, H. T. (2016) FPL postpones Turkey Point nuclear expansion – for at least four years. Retrieved from http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article78187457.html

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