FLORIDA TODAY, Monday, December 8, 1986
Hot about cooling water
Kow much is one square mile Of
ocean worth? The cost to Florida
Power Corp. customers could be as
much as $274 million.
The issue of hot water discharge
is triggering a dispute between FPC
and the federal Environmental Pro-
tection Agency, which charges the
Crystal River discharge has killed
fish and stripped sea grass from at
least a square mile of ocean. The
FPC doesn't dispute the finding. It
does dispute, however, methods
needed to correct the situation.
Florida Power plants dump 1
billion gallons of heated sea water a
day into the ocean. Five plants at
the Crystal River complex, four coal
and- one nuclear unit, use water
from the Gulf of Mexico as a coolant
in generating electricity and then
discharge it back into the Gulf.
The power company favors a'
\program of planting sea grass and
stocking fish, at a cost of $11 million.
The EPA has rejected that idea.
Another proposal is to widen and
extend a discharge canal three
miles into the Gulf, dumping the
thermal discharge farther offshore
in deeper water.
Such water discharges, however,
were outlawed by the federal Clean
Water Act of 1972. The EPA wants
Florida Power to build cooling
towers for three of the generating
units, unless the power company
can prove the towers are unneces-
At stake is. an EPA discharge
permit, which the EPA has blocked
renewing since 1980 because of the
discharge damage to the ocean
.environment The EPA says it will
reissue the permit only if the utility
firm resolves the discharge prob-
The case might hold repercus-
sions beyond this single instance, it
appears to us. Its resolution may
define or refine the environmental
issue of producing a public necessity
versus the scale of ecological dam-
age allowed. Either the public will
pay more for protecting the environ-
ment, or the environment will lose
out to economy for consumers for a