A study conducted on the waters surrounding a nuclear power plant in South Florida has revealed an increased level of tritium, potentially leaking from the plant’s aging pipes.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez released the study Monday, according to the Miami Herald. The report revealed that water tests in December and January found an increased amount of tritium, a radioactive isotope, in the Biscayne Bay.
Tritium levels were up to 215 times higher than normal in ocean water.
The Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant apparently leaky canals could pose a major threat to the wildlife around the Florida Keys. The Miami Herald reported that the study confirms critics’ fears that the canals had been running too hot after Florida Power & Light revamped two reactors to produce more power.
“This is one of several things we were very worried about,” South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard told the Miami New Times. “You would have to work hard to find a worse place to put a nuclear plant, right between two national parks and subject to hurricanes and storm surge.”
Stoddard added that there’s only two solutions to the problem, replace the canals with cooling towers or shut the whole plant down.
The study found that over the last five years, cooling canal water typically has tritium levels at 60 to more than 800 times higher in the bay. Tritium at the bottom of the bay near the canals was found to be between 130 and 215 times higher.
While Florida Power & Light is urged to address the issue, officials said there needs to be more studies issued to figure out why the canals are leaking and determine a long-term solution to fix the problem.
Florida Power & Light spokeswoman Bianca Cruz told the Miami New Times that it still needs to review the study. She defended the company’s expansion two years ago, which the study points could’ve caused the leak in the canals and the eventual contamination of the Biscayne Bay.
Cruz also said the utility’s own records don’t indicate a larger pollution problem.
"We've collected this data for many years, and this data has reviewed by independent scientists," Cruz said. "We're going to continue to work closely with regulatory agencies."