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Nuclear plant project triggers local boom

BISCAYNE BAY, Fla., Nov. 21 (UPI) -- A nuclear power plant upgrade under way in South Florida is producing a local business boom, a business official says.

"There is an enormous impact," from the $1 billion upgrade of the Turkey Point power plant near Biscayne Bay, said Mary Finlan, executive director of the Greater Homestead/Florida City Chamber of Commerce.

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"A couple of our realtors are up to their eyeballs in requests to find housing, and the restaurants are noticing it big time."

The project has already swelled the ranks of workers at the plant from 800 to about 3,200, The Miami Herald reported Monday. It is expected to bring in a peak of 5,000 workers early next year, the newspaper said.

The project involves upgrades to the entire "secondary plant," said Florida Power and Light site Vice President Michael Kiley, using the trade lingo for everything in a nuclear power plant that is not directly part of the nuclear power process -- in other words, everything but the reactors.

Upgrades to transformers, pumps, steam pipes, and two enormous generators "will produce 15 percent more electricity," Kiley said.

The project has triggered environmental concerns, as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the project would raise water temperatures and salinity levels in the plant's cooling canals -- 168 miles of them.

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The impact was not judged significant, although environmentalists are concerned the higher salt concentrations threatens fresh water wells in the area.

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