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Florida: American Crocodiles, Once Headed Towards Extinction, Thriving Outside Nuclear Plant

Crocodiles are shy and want nothing to do with us. Humans are too big to be on their menu

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crocodiles
Wildlife biologist/crocodile specialist Michael Lloret holds a baby crocodile on one of the berms along the cooling canals next to the Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station, July 19, 2019, in Homestead, Fla. VOA

American crocodiles, once headed toward extinction, are thriving at an unusual spot — the canals surrounding a South Florida nuclear plant. Last week, 73 crocodile hatchlings were rescued by a team of specialists at Florida Power & Light’s Turkey Point nuclear plant and dozens more are expected to emerge soon.

Turkey Point’s 168-mile (270-kilometer) man-made canals serve as the home to several hundred crocodiles, where a team of specialists working for FPL monitors and protects them from hunting and climate change.

From January to April, Michael Lloret, an FPL wildlife biologist and crocodile specialist, helps create nests for the creatures. Once the hatchlings are reared and left by the mother, the team captures them. They are measured and tagged with microchips to observe their development. Lloret then relocates them to increase survival rates.

“We entice crocodiles to come in to the habitats FPL created,” Lloret said. “We clear greenery on the berms so that the crocodiles can nest. Because of rising sea levels wasting nests along the coasts, Turkey Point is important for crocodiles to continue.”

crocodile

Wildlife biologist/crocodile specialist Michael Lloret points out a crocodile nest on one of the berms along the cooling canals next to the Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station, July 19, 2019, in Homestead, Fla. VOA

Now ‘threatened,’ not ‘endangered’

The canals are one of three major U.S. habitats for crocodiles, where 25% of the 2,000 American crocodiles live. The FPL team has been credited for moving the classification of crocodiles on the Endangered Species Act to “threatened” from “endangered” in 2007. The team has tagged 7,000 babies since it was established in 1978.

Temperature determines the crocodiles’ sex: the hotter it is, the more likely males are hatched. Lloret said this year’s hatchlings are male-heavy because of last month’s weather — it was the hottest June on record globally.

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Because hatchlings released are at the bottom of the food chain, only a small fraction of them survive to be adults. Lloret said they at least have a fighting chance at Turkey Point, away from humans who hunted them to near-extinction out of greed and fear, even though attacks are rare. Only one crocodile attack has ever been recorded in the U.S. — a couple were both bitten while swimming in a South Florida canal in 2014, but both survived.

“American crocodiles have a bad reputation, when they are just trying to survive,” Lloret said. “They are shy and want nothing to do with us. Humans are too big to be on their menu.” (VOA)

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Tens of Thousands of Tons of Contaminated Water from Fukushima Nuclear Plant to Be Released into Pacific Ocean

Tens of thousands of tons of contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear plant might have to be released into the Pacific Ocean,

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Contaminated Water, Fukushima, Nuclear Plant
FILE - Storage tanks for radioactive water are seen at Tokyo Electric Power Co's tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, Feb. 18, 2019. VOA

Tens of thousands of tons of contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear plant might have to be released into the Pacific Ocean, Japan’s environment minister said Tuesday.

The water, used to cool damaged fuel cores after the plant was damaged by the earthquake and tsunami in 2011, is being stored in giant tanks at the site. But the storage space is running out.

“The only option will be to drain it into the sea and dilute it,” Yoshiaki Harada said at a news briefing in Tokyo. “The whole of the government will discuss this, but I would like to offer my simple opinion.”

Tokyo Electric Power, which operates the nuclear plant, has said it will run out of storage space for the water in 2022.

Contaminated Water, Fukushima, Nuclear Plant
FILE – Workers are seen in front of storage tanks for radioactive water at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, Feb. 18, 2019. VOA

For the past eight years since the meltdown of Fukushima’s three reactors, some 200 tons of radioactive water have been pumped out of the damaged buildings every day.

At another meeting, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the government has not yet settled on a course of action. He said Harada’s opinions were his own.

“There is no fact that the method of disposal of contaminated water has been decided. The government would like to make a decision after making thorough discussion,” he said.

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Japan’s vast fishing industry, as well as its neighbor South Korea, have strongly opposed the idea of dumping the contaminated water into the ocean. (VOA)