Turkey Point Nuclear Generating System

Keith Weisenberg
June 26, 2017

Submitted as coursework for PH241, Stanford University, Winter 2017

Nuclear Energy in Southern Florida

Fig. 1: Biscayne Bay National Park. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station (TPNGS) is located just outside of Homestead, Florida, neighboring Biscayne National Park in South Florida (see Figure 1). The nuclear reactor operates on 3,300-acre plot of land with a maximum capacity of 3,300 megawatts making it the sixth biggest power plant in the United States. The state has also approved an expansion of the site set for 2017. [1] The reactor is cooled via a canal system rather than a conventional cooling tower. Many Floridians were against the original build of TPNGS because of the high population reliant on water from the area, the area's proximity to a national park, and the area's susceptibility to damage from flooding and hurricanes. Because this region is extremely hot and humid annually, there is constant worry that there might be mistakes when cooling the water (to prevent the pumps from melting/overheating). [1] Also, the moisture that is constantly in the air coupled with the frequent rain are probable modes of transportation for any kind of leaking nuclear contamination.

Effects on the Public

At some time between late 2015 and early 2016, it was reported that the Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station is leaking after a water test in Biscayne Bay showed over 200 times the water's usual levels of tritium, a radioactive isotope commonly related to the production of nuclear power. [2] Although not considered to be highly detrimental to peoples' health, there are some miscellaneous negative effects on people exposed to more than the usual amount of tritium, with emphasis on pregnant women.

The Positive Effects of a Nuclear Leak

The results of a nuclear leak such as the one in Chernobyl can positively affect the environment. Although the were mutations and fertility declines that many plants and animals experienced within the "exclusion area", the species have bounced back as the radiation levels have decreased. [3] Animals from areas outside the critically contaminated areas have come into the exclusion zone to integrate back into the population. Many of these species have been able to return to original levels known before the reactor meltdown and have even grown to sizes and populations greater than before the meltdown. The most important reason for the strong bounce backs is due to the decrease in human activity in the contaminated areas and the regions neighboring them. [4]

© Keith Weisenberg. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] T. Elfrink, "Turkey Point Nuclear Plant Is Pumping Polluted Water Into Biscayne Bay," Miami New Times, 8 Mar 16.

[2] "Tritium, Radiation Protection Limits, and Drinking Water Standards," U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, February 2016.

[3] S. M. Rashad and F. H. Hammad, "Nuclear Power and the Environment: Comparative Assessment of Environmental and Health Impacts of Electricity-Generating Systems," Appl. Energy 65, 211 (2000).

[4] G. Steinhauser, A. Brandl, and T. E. Johnson, "Comparison of the Chernobyl and Fukushima Nuclear Accidents: A Review of the Environmental Impacts," Sci. Total Environ. 470, 800 (2014).