Friends of the Earth et al. v. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
The Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant is located just 25 miles south of Miami, Florida. The plant sits in the middle of a fragile ecosystem between two national treasures, Biscayne Bay and Everglades National Park, and atop the Biscayne aquifer, the major public water supply for Miami-Dade County and the Florida Keys. It’s also the only plant in the United States that cools its reactors by using cooling canals—miles of canals that circulate the same water in and out of the plant. These canals have had serious problems, and in recent years it has become apparent that they are leaking and contaminating the Biscayne aquifer.
Even so, in 2018, Turkey Point’s owner, Florida Power & Light Company, became the first nuclear operator to take the unprecedented step of seeking to extend its operating license to a total of 80 years (called a subsequent license renewal)—doubling the plant’s original operating time and extending it into the 2050s.
NRDC, along with Friends of the Earth and Miami Waterkeeper, filed contentions raising the requisite scope of environmental review for subsequent license renewal under U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regulations and identifying flaws in the analysis of sea level rise, groundwater impacts, and endangered species.
The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board ultimately rejected NRDC’s contentions, with the dissenting opinion disputing the majority’s view. NRDC appealed the board’s decision to the commission—but without addressing NRDC’s appeals, the NRC issued Florida Power & Light the subsequent renewed licenses on December 5, 2019. The licenses became effective immediately.
But on February 24, 2022, in a major victory, the NRC reversed this decision and issued orders that require a full environmental review of the impacts of operating the aging Turkey Point nuclear reactors through 2050. While this review is conducted, NRDC, Friends of the Earth, and Miami Waterkeeper will continue to be vigilant about the safety of our environment and the risks that climate change poses to vulnerable nuclear plants like Turkey Point.
A Win for Proper Nuclear Safety
Nuclear Power 101
NRDC: Sea-Level Rise to be Ignored in Florida Nuclear Reactor Licensing Review
WASHINGTON - A judicial panel of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission late yesterday agreed to review two measures brought by environmental groups on the proposed license extension of the Turkey Point reactor in Florida. But the panel, the Atomic Safety & Licensing Board, rejected requests to consider the impact of sea-level rise on the plant, which is south of Miami.
NRDC: NRC Approves Reactor Threatened by Sea-Level Rise
WASHINGTON - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission pushed through the extension of the license for the Turkey Point nuclear facility in Florida. The approval comes more than a decade before the current license expires, in 2032. In giving the OK, the NRC ignored pending challenges to the extension.