For Immediate Release, February 24, 2022
Rachel Silverstein, Ph.D., Miami Waterkeeper
305 905 0856, [email protected]
Mark Drajem, NRDC
202 289 2436, [email protected]
Nuclear Regulatory Commission Reverses Course and Rescinds Turkey Point’s License Extension, requiring additional environmental review
Feb. 24, 2022
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced today that it will require an updated environmental review of Turkey Point and other aging U.S. nuclear reactors before licensing them to continue to operate for as long as 80 years. The NRC opinion stated it will no longer allow nuclear plants to rely on an outdated “generic” NRC environmental analysis.
“After years of legal challenges, Florida Power and Light will finally be required to assess the site-specific risks to Turkey Point from rising sea levels and environmental impacts,” said Dr. Rachel Silverstein, Executive Director and Waterkeeper from Miami Waterkeeper, “This plant’s location, age, and safety challenges pose an existential threat to the region. We are thrilled with this NRC decision to consider updated science and data in considering running these aging plants for an unprecedented 80-year timeframe.”
Caroline Reiser, attorney at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) in the subsequent license renewal proceeding for the Turkey Point reactors, said it was important that NRC recognized the inadequacy of its previous review. It must now conduct a thorough and fair environmental review before allowing a nuclear plant along the coast of Florida to operate past 2050.
“Increased flooding caused by climate change poses serious risks to the safe operation of Turkey Point -- and will pose greater risks in the decades ahead,” Reiser said. “But the NRC had failed to address it until now. With this decision, the NRC has restored the level of accountability we sought through our lawsuit.”
Richard Ayres, attorney for Friends of the Earth, said that the Commission’s decision requires a long-overdue national assessment of the risks from aging equipment and changing climate to our obsolescent fleet of existing nuclear reactors.
In addition to Turkey Point in Miami, Florida, the NRC determined that this decision affects all pending and prospective “subsequent license renewal” proceedings, including North Anna (Virginia), Peach Bottom (Pennsylvania), Oconee (South Carolina), and Point Beach (Wisconsin). The legal challenges at Turkey Point were brought by Miami Waterkeeper, NRDC, and Friends of the Earth. Similar challenges at other plants were brought by Beyond Nuclear, Alliance for a Progressive Virginia, and the Sierra Club.
About Miami Waterkeeper
Miami Waterkeeper’s mission is to ensure swimmable, drinkable, fishable water for all. To achieve this mission, MWK focuses on clean water, ecosystem protection, and sea-level rise readiness through three approaches – scientific research, legal and policy advocacy, and education and outreach. Learn more at miamiwaterkeeper.org.
About Natural Resources Defense Council
The Natural Resources Defense Council’s purpose is to safeguard the Earth: its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends. One of its organizational goals is to improve the environmental, health, and safety conditions at nuclear facilities. To that end, NRDC utilizes its institutional resources to minimize the risks that nuclear facilities pose to its members and to the general public. Learn more at nrdc.org.
About Friends of the Earth
Friends of the Earth strives for a more healthy and just world. We understand the challenges facing our planet call for more than half measures, so we push for the reforms that are needed, not merely the ones that are politically easy.