Op-Ed

FPL President: We work hard in Florida to provide safe, clean energy

Recent sampling of water in Biscayne Bay found higher than normal levels of tritium, a rare hydrogen isotope produced by nuclear reactors and used to track water leaking from Turkey Point’s cooling canals.
Recent sampling of water in Biscayne Bay found higher than normal levels of tritium, a rare hydrogen isotope produced by nuclear reactors and used to track water leaking from Turkey Point’s cooling canals. Tim Chapman

FPL is working aggressively to address challenges facing the Turkey Point facility’s cooling canals — an essential system that we were federally mandated to construct.

Unfortunately, there has been a considerable amount of misinformation in the media and online. Some of the confusion is no doubt because of the technical nature of nuclear plant operations, and some of it is being promoted purposely by interests with their own underlying agendas.

Regardless, as president and CEO of FPL, I am personally involved to address the issues and want to ensure that, if nothing else, three fundamental things are clear:

▪ There is absolutely no adverse impact to drinking water, safety or public health.

▪ There is not now, nor will there be, any lasting adverse impact on Biscayne Bay.

▪ FPL continues to work openly and proactively with local, state and federal authorities to ensure all safety and environmental issues are continuously addressed.

We will identify and implement near and long-term solutions to ensure the canals are functioning properly, now and for years to come.

That said, some critics have sounded an alarm regarding the level of tritium recorded at monitoring wells in the area, implying that the level of tritium is dangerously radioactive. Such a claim couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, tritium is a naturally occurring radiological element that is present throughout the Earth, created when the sun’s rays hit the atmosphere. Tritium also is commonly found in the water we drink, and as a result, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has established clear standards for safe tritium levels in drinking water.

Of course, no one drinks water directly from the bay, but if we did, it would be perfectly safe by EPA tritium standards. In fact, the highest tritium level recorded in the bay adjacent to Turkey Point is 78 percent safer than the EPA standard.

But the Herald’s March 9 editorial made an outrageous and inappropriate comparison to the situation in Flint, Michigan. The simple truth is our water is not affecting the water supply or Biscayne Bay and poses absolutely no threat to public health.

At FPL, we pride ourselves on being leaders, and not waiting for others to tell us what to do, particularly in the areas of safety, environmental stewardship and compliance. That’s why we’ve been taking action to improve water quality for over a year. Our environmental experts and engineers have made tremendous progress to reduce salinity and improve the overall water quality in the canals. Our team is working daily, hand-in-hand with Miami-Dade County, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection the South Florida Water Management District and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and we will continue to do so until all issues are completely resolved.

Our company has proudly served South Florida for more than 90 years, and we believe in doing the right thing for our customers and neighbors. Of course, we’re not perfect and we know there’s always room for improvement. That’s why we’re tackling these challenges head on. I give customers my personal commitment that we will develop workable solutions that ensure Turkey Point continues to safely provide clean energy to Miami-Dade for many years to come.

Eric Silagy is president and CEO of Florida Power & Light Co.

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