NRC extends comment period on enviro review for new Turkey Point units

At the request of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has extended the comment period for a draft environmental impact statement on the planned Turkey Point Units 6 and 7 to July 17.

In 2009, Florida Power and Light (FPL) submitted an application for combined licenses (COL) for two nuclear power reactors, Turkey Point Units 6 and 7, at the Turkey Point site near Homestead, Florida. On March 5 of this year, the NRC and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) issued a Federal Register notice in which the NRC solicited comments on NUREG-2176, “Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Combined Licenses (COLs) for Turkey Point Nuclear Plant, Units 6 and 7,” to support the environmental review of the application. The public comment period closed on May 22.

The NRC’s regulations set a minimum public comment period of 45 days for a draft environmental impact statement, and contemplate reasonable requests for a 15-day extension, if practicable. In the Federal Register notice announcing the availability of the Turkey Point DEIS, the NRC staff allowed 75 days for public comment, i.e., the NRC staff already included two 15-day extensions to the minimum comment period for the DEIS.

On May 5, the USACE forwarded to the NRC staff a request from the Seminole Tribe of Florida to extend the comment period on the DEIS until July 13. The Tribe requested this additional time in order to formulate comments on the DEIS after the Tribe meets with the USACE and the NRC staff to discuss it. The meeting is currently scheduled for June 23.

“In the peculiar circumstances present here, the Tribe was unable to meet with the USACE and the NRC staff in time to submit comments within the original comment period, i.e., by May 22, 2015,” said the NRC to an extension notice to be published in the May 28 Federal Register. “The NRC staff has reviewed the Tribe’s request, and considered that the meeting with the Tribe cannot be held until close to the last week of June and that two other Federal agencies have requested to extend the comment period. The NRC staff has determined that the Tribe’s requested extension is warranted to allow the Tribe to provide reasoned comments in light of information discussed in the meeting scheduled for June 23, 2015, and is practicable, within the constraints of the NRC staff review schedule for the application. The NRC staff, however, is not limiting the reopened comment period to the Tribe. Accordingly, the NRC has decided to reopen the public comment period on the DEIS (NUREG-2176) until July 17, 2015.”

In this draft EIS, the review team evaluates the environmental effects of the construction and operation of two Westinghouse AP1000 PWRs at the Turkey Point site, each with thermal power ratings of 3,415 MW(t). Turkey Point Units 6 and 7 would be located on the same site as the existing Turkey Point site, which has five other power units, including two nuclear reactors.

Turkey Point Units 1 and 2 have been operated as natural-gas/oil steam-generating units. Unit 2 was recently converted to operate in synchronous condenser mode. Unit 1 will be converted to operate in synchronous condenser mode in 2016, the draft EIS noted. In the synchronous condenser mode, the generators help stabilize and optimize grid performance but do not generate power. Units 3 and 4 are nuclear pressurized water reactors (PWRs), and Unit 5 is a natural-gas combined-cycle steam-generating unit.

Said FPL parent NextEra Energy (NYSE: NEE) about this project in its Feb. 20 annual Form 10-K report: “FPL’s need petition for two additional nuclear units at its Turkey Point site was approved by the [Florida Public Service Commission] in 2008 and FPL is moving forward with activities necessary to obtain all permits, licenses and approvals necessary for construction and operation of the units. The two units are expected to add a total of approximately 2,200 MW of capacity. The timing of commercial operation will be subject to various regulatory approvals from the FPSC and other agencies which will be required throughout the licensing and development processes and the nuclear units are expected to be placed in-service in 2027 and 2028. The NRC has indicated that its consideration of the licenses for the two units will be complete by early 2017.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.