Nuclear site Hazards from the Sea

In response to the Guardian article on the vulnerability of nuclear sites to erosion and global warning induced sea rise, co-ordinator of the Nuclear Consulting Group Dr. Paul Dorfman wrote:

“It seems clear that nuclear facilities will be vulnerable to the effects of global warming, As the Institution of Mechanical Engineers stated in a 2009 report, ‘Nuclear sites, such as Sizewell, based on the coastline, may need considerable investment to protect them against rising sea levels, or even abandonment/relocation in the long term.’

So, given that proposed new UK reactors, together with their radioactive waste stores including spent fuel, will be located on coasts — predicted sea-level rise, shoreline erosion, coastal storms, floods, tidal surges and the evolution of “nuclear islands” stand out as primary concerns. This means that adapting nuclear power to climate change will entail increased expense for construction, operation, waste storage and decommissioning, and the incurring of significant costs to the environment, public health and welfare”

Robert Griffiths of Somerton added:

“Although the risk of floods to nuclear power stations must not be ignored, a much more dangerous threat is that of a tsunami. Oldbury, Berkeley and Hinkley Point are all in the area of England’s only known tsunami. This is reported to have occurred on 20th January in 1607. Plaques on local churches indicate the depth of the water may have been 7 to 8 metres, and it is said to have reached Glastonbury Tor, some 22km inland. Flood and erosion problems can be solved by building sea walls around the plants as we approach 2080. Why is no one worried about an unexpected tsunami on top of rising sea levels?”

MARINET’s opposition to the issue of further dredging licences for removing aggregate off the coast at Sizewell was not upheld, and approval was given. The agents for the dredging company argued that “a full record of changes to the profiles of the coastline since the original licence was granted is NOT a requirement of the current Government View Procedure and therefore will not be included in the scope of the IEA”. The Licence was duly approved.

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