Levy nuclear plant clears environmental hurdle


Published: Monday, January 12, 2009 at 4:46 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 12, 2009 at 4:46 p.m.

Progress Energy sailed over one of its last hurdles Monday when the

Florida Department of Environmental Protection gave the utility

permission to continue with its plans for a 2,200-megawatt nuclear

power plant in Levy County.

The "conditions of certification" report by FDEP was one of the final

steps Progress Energy needed before starting its $17 billion project.

The plant, which is slated for completion in 2017, will generate

enough power to serve an estimated 1.4 million Florida homes.

Progress Energy already has about 1.7 million Florida customers, with

about 62,000 in Marion County and 4,700 in Alachua County. The Levy

County plant will pump about 122 million gallons of water per day from

the Cross Florida Barge Canal to cool steam created in the process of

making electricity.

In its 100-page report, FDEP concluded that Progress Energy could

build its nuclear plant as long as it complied with FDEP's rules with

regard to construction, handling of waste materials and environmental

impacts. FDEP will also require the plant to maintain monitoring wells

at its site.

Some of FDEP's conclusions were:

* That the direct environmental impacts to wetlands due to the plant's

construction and related activities will be offset through mitigation.

* A minimal amount of regulated air pollutants will result from the

project as compared to other types of power plants.

* That once the nuclear plant is completed, Progress Energy plans to

close its two Crystal River coal-fired plants, significantly reducing

pollutants.

A copy of the complete FDEP report is available from this ftp site.

Fred Hiers can be reached at fred.hiers@starbanner.com or 352-867-4157.

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