Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only shake you down once a year, but when we do we really mean it. It costs a lot to keep the site afloat, and our growing audience, well over TWO million unique viewers a month, eats up a lot of bandwidth — and bandwidth isn’t free. We aren’t supported by corporate donors, advertisers or big foundations. We survive solely on your support.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Incident at Turkey Point

by HARVEY WASSERMAN

A s many as two million Floridians were blacked out yesterday by a series of grid malfunctions that forced shut two atomic reactors south of Miami and renewed nightmares of a radioactive catastrophe. The chain of events should serve as yet another serious warning to those who would build still more atomic reactors in Florida and elsewhere.

The wide-ranging blackout apparently started with an accidental trip at a substation. That sabotage has been ruled out may not be all that reassuring. Countless homes and businesses were affected from the Florida Keys to as far away as Tampa, Gainesville and Daytona Beach. Frightened Floridians were trapped in elevators or abandoned offices by making their way down dark, sweltering stairwells. In Miami-Dade alone at least forty traffic accidents piled up as signals went dark.

This blackout’s reach was limited by steps taken since a 2003 reactor-related grid failure in Ohio led to a massive blackout that left 50 million people without power.

But the two large reactors at Turkey Point did trip from the loss of off-site power. (For safety reasons, vital cooling systems and other critical components rely on electricity coming from sources other than the reactors.)

A far more tense shut-down came when off-site power was lost during 1992’s Hurricane Andrew, whose eye passed directly over Turkey Point. At the height of the storm, communication from the control room was also dangerously lost. Tools and equipment valued at around $100 million were destroyed or simply blown away.

Andrew’s epic devastation made it clear that south Florida could never be evacuated in the wake of a melt-down amidst a hurricane. After the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island, the NRC adopted specifications for evacuation procedures that were simply shredded by Andrew.

But Turkey Point re-opened three weeks later. To this day, no procedures are in place that could reliably evacuate south Florida’s burgeoning human population if radiation releases occurred even under optimum weather conditions, let alone amidst a major wind event.

Nonetheless, Florida Power & Light now wants to build two more reactors at Turkey Point, at a cost of some $20 billion. The generators could not come on line until sometime between 2020 and 2025.

A request for “Construction Work in Progress” (CWIP) is now before the Public Utilities Commission. CWIP would force state ratepayers to cover the cost of the reactors as they are being built. The PUC could make a decision within a month.

FPL may also seek federal loan guarantees, $18.5 billion of which were noticed in the federal Appropriations Bill passed in December, 2007. The Lieberman-Warner Global Warming bill, soon to be debated in the US Senate, may also come with hefty subsidies for projects like this one. Two more reactors have been proposed by Progress Energy for a site near one reactor already operating at Crystal River, near Tampa.

Little if any private financing is likely forthcoming for the proposed Florida reactors. But if CWIP or federal loans come through, they may be hard to stop.

New reactor construction at Turkey Point would have substantial environmental impacts on the nearby Everglades National Park. Serious questions remain about pressure put on water supplies, damage to nearby wildlife habitat, and much more. A wide range of local and national environmental groups have begun to intervene against the project.

This blackout and reactor shut down happened on a clear, calm Florida day. It may be only a matter of time before these reactors finally do take the sunshine state into the radioactive abyss.

None of this could have happened had Florida’s power come from decentralized solar panels installed on buildings. Those billions slated for more nukes would be far better spent doing just that.

HARVEY WASSERMAN, a co-founder of Musicians United for Safe Energy, is editing the nukefree.org web site. He is the author of SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth, A.D. 2030, is at www.solartopia.org. He can be reached at: Windhw@aol.com

 

 

 

 

Harvey Wasserman wrote SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth. His Green Power & Wellness Show is at www.prn.fm

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 28, 2016
Eric Draitser
Stop Trump! Stop Clinton!! Stop the Madness (and Let Me Get Off)!
Ted Rall
The Thrilla at Hofstra: How Trump Won the Debate
Robert Fisk
Cliché and Banality at the Debates: Trump and Clinton on the Middle East
Patrick Cockburn
Cracks in the Kingdom: Saudi Arabia Rocked by Financial Strains
Lowell Flanders
Donald Trump, Islamophobia and Immigrants
Shane Burley
Defining the Alt Right and the New American Fascism
Jan Oberg
Ukraine as the Border of NATO Expansion
Ramzy Baroud
Ban Ki-Moon’s Legacy in Palestine: Failure in Words and Deeds
David Swanson
How We Could End the Permanent War State
Sam Husseini
Debate Night’s Biggest Lie Was Told by Lester Holt
Laura Carlsen
Ayotzinapa’s Message to the World: Organize!
Binoy Kampmark
The Triumph of Momentum: Re-Electing Jeremy Corbyn
David Macaray
When the Saints Go Marching In
Seth Oelbaum
All Black Lives Will Never Matter for Clinton and Trump
Adam Parsons
Standing in Solidarity for a Humanity Without Borders
Cesar Chelala
The Trump Bubble
September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
James McEnteer
Eugene, Oregon and the Rising Cost of Cool
Norman Pollack
The Great Debate: Proto-Fascism vs. the Real Thing
Michael Winship
The Tracks of John Boehner’s Tears
John Steppling
Fear Level Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Where Is That Wasteful Government Spending?
James Russell
Beyond Debate: Interview Styles of the Rich and Famous
September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail