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How Long Does It Take To Clean An Environmental Disaster Like an Oil Spill?

November 22, 2016
Colson Hicks Eidson

Not long ago we told you about the controversy surrounding the Florida Power & Light company (FPL) and a plume of saltwater laced with radioactive tritium moving toward the Biscayne aquifer. Well, there has been a development in the case, and every resident of Coral Gables needs to be informed of this new twist.

How Long Does It Take To Clean An Environmental Disaster?

How Long Does It Take To Clean An Environmental Disaster Like an Oil Spill?The environmental effects of canals constructed to contain used cooling water from the Turkey Point nuclear reactor have been a concern for residents of our community since the canals were constructed in the 1970s. Monitoring wells meant to gauge the spread of super salty water from the canals fell out of usage, and this lapse has been a contributing factor to the recent discovery of a plume of salt water that could threaten our drinking water. However, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has taken steps to protect both the environment and the safety of our water supply.

The agency released a 25-page order that requires FPL to clean up its act within the next 10 years. The energy company is required to freshen and improve the 5,900 acres of canals used to cool its nuclear reactors, which will include installing extraction wells and reducing the salinity of the water used to cool the facility, but what does that mean?

How Will New Requirements Protect South Florida’s Drinking Water?

Right now, the water used to cool FPL’s Turkey Point reactor is three times saltier than nearby sea water, so FPL will have to reduce the saltiness of its canal water, which should help reduce the salt plume that threatens our drinking water. The company will also use extraction wells to draw the salty plume away from our drinking water. If everything proceeds according to plan, FPL officials claim that they can reduce the majority of the salty plume in five years, but environmental experts are still skeptical.

Experts claim that the plant will still produce hypersaline run off, and so the salty plume might not be reduced by FPL’s efforts. Environmentalists are now pushing for the construction of cooling towers similar to those being used by newer nuclear facilities. Do you think they have a point? Do you think FPL owes its customers for threatening their drinking water? Voice your opinion on our Facebook and Twitter—plus, don’t forget to follow our blog so you can stay up-to-date on the legal issues that affect Coral Gables and the rest of Florida.