Explanation of Indicator
Nuclear power supplies approximately 18% of the Florida’s power needs. Studies of risk perception consistently indicate that the public rates the risk of a nuclear plant disaster higher than what has been scientifically determined. The state has three nuclear power plants: Turkey Point (Dade County) and St. Lucie (St. Lucie County) owned by Florida Power and Light, and Crystal River (Citrus County) owned by Florida Power Corporation. Each of these plants is located directly on the coast to take advantage of the availability of water for reactor cooling purposes. The location of these plants represents a potential radiological hazard to coastal populations. A 10-mile radius Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ) exists around each plant as designated by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission due to the potential for release of radioactive material. The state and the utility corporations plan and prepare for radiological emergencies that may affect the populations within the EPZs. The State of Florida Radiological Emergency Management Plan for Nuclear Power Plants contains population estimates for the EPZs and describes planning and procedures for radiological emergencies. Because the population within an EPZ is likely to be directly affected by a radiological emergency, population growth within an EPZ represents increased risk to the population based simply on the location of their residence.
Information on the population within the EPZs is available from Bill LeBlanc, Division of Emergency Management, Florida Department of Community Affairs, 2740 Centerview Drive, Tallahassee, FL 32399, or at (904) 413-9896.
The data are available in hard copy at no cost.
The data are updated for each plant every 10 years based on the U.S. census.
Because the data are only collected every 10 years, the information quickly becomes out-dated. In addition, the data only represent residential populations and do not include commercial and other non-residential uses of EPZ areas.
In each of the three EPZs, population figures increased from 1980 to 1990, thus indicating a greater population under threat from radiological emergencies. The lack of annual observations prevents observations of population changes correlated to specific events. Historically, Dade County and St. Lucie County have been high growth counties, while Citrus County has been a low growth county. This trend is likely to persist in the near future.
Although the data are readily available, the indicator could be improved. The utility corporations should be required to annually update population figures for the EPZs using methods that estimate the actual population instead of methods that interpolate or extrapolate census information. This could be accomplished by having the local government building departments track building permits from an established base year population.