Radioactive Isotope Found in Biscayne Bay

A new study has shown that Biscayne Bay water contains 215 times the normal level of tritium, a radioactive isotope that most likely leaked from the deteriorating cooling canals of a nearby nuclear power plant.

The report does not specify if the higher levels of tritium are a threat to marine life or humans, but tritium is often used as an indicator that nuclear waste is present. The nuclear plant is owned by Florida Power & Light, the third largest electric company in the United States. According to their website, FPL is “a clean energy company widely recognized for its efforts in sustainability, ethics and diversity”. They also claim that their collection of power plants is “one of the cleanest among all utilities nationwide”.

In the summer of 2013, FPL ramped up production by 15% to meet demand, which resulted in a overheating and salinization of the cooling water canals. The drought and high temperatures during the summer of 2014 exacerbated this, causing the cooling water to reach 104 degrees Fahrenheit and increase further in salinity. The latest report, released March 7, indicates that the canals may have then ruptured, allowing the wastewater to escape into Biscayne Bay.

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As anglers, this news is concerning. Biscayne Bay and the waters around it are home to some of our favorite species of fish, including bonefish, permit, and tarpon. It’s proximity to Miami makes it one of the most popular destinations for fishermen, but also puts it at high risk for pollution, nuclear or otherwise.

For a deeper look at the leaking power plant in Florida, check out this article by Jenny Staletovich in the Miami Herald. There’s a lot more to this story…

Photo from Scannin Shallow Guide Service

Photo from Scannin Shallow Guide Service, Biscayne Bay

Cover photo by NPCA