In Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and Tropical Audubon Society Incorporated v. Florida Power & Light Company, the power company was charged with violating the Clean Water Act. Florida Power & Light’s nuclear power reactors at Turkey Point are allegedly leaking polluted water into Biscayne Bay. Plaintiffs state that FPL has created a large saltwater plume that is slowly moving toward wells several miles away that supply water to Miami and Florida Keys residents. Florida Power & Light Company is the third largest electric utility in the US, serving approximately 4.9 million customer accounts. FPL is a subsidiary of Juno Beach, Florida-based NextEra Energy, Inc.
The US District Court, Southern District of Florida, case 1:16-cv-23017 complaint states:
The cooling canal system is unlined and underlain by porous limestone geology, including the Biscayne Aquifer. … In 2012 and 2013, the two nuclear generators were “uprated” to increase power production, resulting in a much higher than predicted increase in the temperature and salinity of the water in the cooling canal system. As a result of the higher temperature and salinity in the cooling canal system, FPL began adding up to 100 million gallons per day of fresh water to the cooling canal system in 2014. The addition of this freshwater further pushed pollutants from the cooling canal system into the groundwater and into Biscayne Bay…
FPL has violated this effluent limitation repeatedly since at least June 2015, and continues to violate this limitation, by discharging wastewater from the cooling canal system containing pollutants (phosphorus, ammonia, TKN, total nitrogen, radioactive tritium) into Biscayne Bay through a direct hydrological connection between the groundwater impacted by the cooling canal system and Biscayne Bay. These violations have been documented based on the detection of the pollutants in monitoring by FPL and the Miami-Dade Division of Environmental Resources Management (“DERM”) since 2010…
Due to the contamination of the water in the cooling canal system and the groundwater below and surrounding the canal system, the violations have been continuous for at least the past five (5) years and will likely continue after the date of this Complaint unless the source of the contamination is removed and the groundwater is cleaned up.
The plaintiff’s environmental engineering expert witness asserts that the data shows FPL should have known about the salinity intrusion from the canals by at least 1992. He also opined that the cleanup project in progress will not eliminate the underground saltwater plume that extends five miles west of the power plant. While FPL officials have argued that the saltwater is not impacting drinking water, plaintiffs allege that billions of gallons of contaminated hypersaline water have traveled from the unlined cooling canals to the Biscayne Aquifer.
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