The Miami Herald reports the story, today: "Rising water temperatures and severe algae blooms in cooling canals have threatened to force the shutdown of two nuclear reactors at Florida Power & Light’s Turkey Point plant over the last few weeks." (http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/07/16/4239899/hot-weather-threatens-cooling.html#storylink=cpy)
The Herald report clearly simplifies a complex topic: the role of the cooling canals in maintaining the safe operation of the nuclear reactors. The Herald notes that FPL and the state have agreed to the emergency measure of spraying chemicals in the canal system to reduce the algae bloom and are planning a further unprecedented measure: to use deep aquifer brackish water to dilute the hyper saline conditions in the canal that FPL acknowledges, in its roundabout way, significantly cause saltwater migration westward.
But the Herald report misses the key point: this crisis -- a real and present danger to the safety of South Floridians -- serves a further purpose for FPL. What FPL is proposing is not just to pull rabbits out of its hat to solve the cooling canal problem, but to dramatically alter the terms of its accountability to government agencies in Florida so that if the rabbits turn out to be confetti, no big deal.
The corporation's lobbyists and attorneys have been working behind closed doors with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to offer a new agreement to the Governing Board of the South Florida Water Management District in the near future. The plan will offer the patina of corporate remedies to address the cooling canal mess. But beneath the surficial detail, what the plan does in its broad concept is free FPL from a history of consent agreements it signed with the State of Florida, and in particular from the supervision of scientists of the South Florida Water Management District.
Prior agreements and promises made by FPL to the public in its 1972 operating permit, that the operation of the nuclear reactors including the cooling canal system, would not harm either people or the environment would now give way to a much clearer path for FPL to take whatever water it needs to cool the new and proposed nuclear reactors. What FPL appears to be saying to the public is: you want nuclear power and more nuclear power at Turkey Point, but we have evidence that we need more fresh water to run our reactors safely, and even if the water is more than we thought we needed forty years ago and even if there are real environmental impacts -- they are not all our fault -- we are just going to have to get our water before anyone else gets theirs.
Better to rewrite pesky promises made in the distant past, before the state and corporation march to the NRC for the new proposed nuclear reactors, Six and Seven, that would make Turkey Point the largest nuclear power generator in the nation, in a state judged most vulnerable in the nation to the impacts of climate change.