Grijalva to EPA: Keep Nuclear Waste out of our National Parks

Calls on Agency and Federal Partners to Stop Turkey Point Nuke Plant Discharges into Biscayne Bay

Washington, D.C. – Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) sent a letter this morning to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy urging her to take immediate action to stop the flow of radioactive water from the Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station into Biscayne National Park. The National Park Service and local officials in South Florida identified the Turkey Point cooling water canal system at as an environmental hazard and potential public health risk years ago, but now the contaminated water is seeping into the Biscayne National Park and polluting local drinking water supply.

The letter refers to a study released earlier this week that shows that water contaminated with the radioactive isotope tritium, as well as harmful levels of salt, phosphorous, and ammonia, is leaching out of unlined cooling canals at the plant and into Biscayne Bay. This is clear evidence that the canals are not operating as a closed loop system, and therefore discharges from the plant are subject to regulation and enforcement under the Clean Water Act.

“Our National Parks are natural treasures and should be treated as such, not as dumping grounds for deep-pocketed polluters trying to pad their bottom lines,” said Grijalva. “This plant is polluting Biscayne Bay and risking contamination of drinking water for the three million Floridians living there. The EPA must step in now and address this problem before more serious damage is done. I hope presidential candidates campaigning in Florida this weekend will join me in calling for immediate and decisive action.”

Turkey Point is owned and operated by Florida Power and Light, a subsidiary of Fortune 200 Company NextEra Energy. The aging plant has faced a series of operational problems in recent years, including a partial shutdown of one of its nuclear reactors and a massive harmful algal bloom in its cooling canal system. Despite these problems, the recently confirmed discharges into Biscayne Bay, and the vulnerable location of the plant with respect to sea level rise and hurricanes, Florida Power and Light hopes to open two new reactors on the same site. A draft Environmental Impact Statement released last year by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has raised serious concerns in federal natural resource agencies, including the National Park Service.

The full letter is available at, http://1.usa.gov/1QMNhMg.  

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