The public has until Dec. 12 to weigh in on whether Florida Power & Light should pass the $200 million clean-up tab for fixing leaking canals at Turkey Point on to customers.
The trouble-prone canals that help cool two aging reactors at the plant have been at the center of a years-long dispute over a growing saltwater plume threatening to contaminate drinking supplies and Biscayne Bay. FPL long denied being the source, but last year Miami-Dade County regulators found elevated levels of tritium, a radioactive tracer used to trace water, in the bay and nearby monitoring wells. Weeks later, the state ordered the utility to clean up the canals and stop the leaks.
Initially, the utility said flushing canal water into an injection well and pumping in fresher water would cost $50 million the first year. But that cost ballooned as clean-up efforts expanded, according to Mike Sole, FPL’s vice president.
The plan has also drawn criticism from solar advocates and environmentalists, who have sued the utility in federal court, saying it fails to prevent future damage.
“FPL knew or should have known as early as 1978 that the operation of the cooling canals at the Turkey Point plant south of Miami was creating a hyper-saline plume that was polluting the Biscayne Aquifer — the drinking water resource for South Florida,” the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy said in a statement.
The group, along with Tropical Audubon and Friends of the Everglades, sued the utility for violating the Clean Water Act and have asked a judge to order FPL to pay for violations dating back to 2010 that could amount to $76 million. Last week, a judge denied FPL’s attempt to dismiss the case.
FPL has said problems in the canal were identified only after the utility and state expanded monitoring efforts in 2010 and said in its response to the Public Service Commission that state law allowed it to bill customers. If any mistake was made in monitoring the canals that allowed them to leak, it was essentially the state’s fault, the utility argued.
However, the Office of Public Counsel, which represents citizens in the matter, has argued the utility’s 1972 federal permit to operate the canals makes clear that FPL bears the responsibility for making sure the canals work properly.
To make a comment, email the Public Service Commission at email@example.com or send a letter to 2540 Shumard Oak Blvd., Tallahassee, FL, 32399. The case docket number is 20170007.
Follow Jenny Staletovich on Twitter @jenstaletovich