Levy nuclear plant clears environmental hurdle


Published: Tuesday, January 13, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 12, 2009 at 10:04 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, would generate enough power to serve an estimated 1.4 million Florida homes.

Progress Energy already has about 1.7 million Florida customers, with about 4,700 in Alachua County and 62,000 in Marion County. The Levy County plant would pump about 122 million gallons of water a day from the Cross Florida Barge Canal south of Yankeetown 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 also will 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 would be offset through mitigation.

A minimal amount of regulated air pollutants would 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.

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