Florida Nuclear Plant Awarded Extension to 2053
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- Dec 7, 2019 6:00 pm GMT
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Just this past Thursday, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission signed off Florida Power and Light’s most recent extension application for their Turkey Point nuclear power plant. The decision means Turkey Point should be up and running until 2053. It should also be noted that this is the first time the commission has signed off to extend the operating lifespan of nuclear reactors to 80 years—the reactors went into operation in 1972 and 1973.
This news may come as a surprise to some observers given the plant’s PR problems over the past decade. The controversy has centered around the Turkey Point’s aging cooling system—a canal system that’s unique in the U.S. At some point, water began leaking, setting off a large saltwater plume in the Biscayne Bay. What’s more, a few years ago, radioactive isotopes were observed in the same area, leading the state’s Department of Environmental Protection to stop the plume from spreading and halt contamination within 10 years.
Turkey Point operators have put forth a plan to repurpose waste water to cool the canals, which should cut their dependence on the bay’s water.
As I’m not a nuclear expert, it’s hard to understand the scale of Turkey Point’s environmental challenges. I also wonder if there’s if there's reason to be concerned about the plant’s vulnerability to hurricanes?
All that being said, it’s refreshing to read about nuclear being embraced by state authorities. It seems every week a new plant closure is celebrated in the press as a victory for the environment, despite mounting evidence that nuclear is the short and medium term solution to our global warming crisis. In fact, a new MIT study was just released this week showing nuclear’s potential to cut carbon emissions without breaking the bank.