UK nuclear power plants will demand heavy price of fish, environmental groups say – YubaNet


LONDON, May 4, 2021 The high death toll that the cooling systems of two British nuclear power plants can impose on marine life worries environmentalists, who call the heavy toll of fish they expect “staggering”.

What the completed Hinkley Point C plant will look like: Convenient to extract cooling water from Bridgwater Bay. Image: courtesy of EDF

The two stations, Hinkley Point C, under construction on the west coast of England, and Sizewell C, planned for the east of the country, will kill, they say, more than 200 million fish a year and destroy millions of ‘other sea creatures. But the builders of the stations say their detractors are exaggerating considerably.

Opponents of the killing of fish had hoped that the UK government agency responsible for conserving fish stocks in the seas around Britain, the Center for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), would their side.

They were disappointed to learn that Cefas is a paid advisor for the French nuclear company EDF, who is building the stations, and would not raise any objection to the company’s method of cooling with seawater.

“The continued official silence on these issues will be a dereliction of duty and a national disgrace”

In a detailed rebuttal of the objectors’ arguments, Cefas denies any conflict of interest between notifying EDF of the damage that the stations would cause to the marine environment and its own duty to protect fish stocks – and it affirms that the loss of millions of fish would not affect the stocks in their whole.

the Twin nuclear reactors Hinkley Point C under construction in Somerset, West England, slated for completion by 2026, will kill around 182 million fish per year by some estimates, though EDF says it is doing its best to reduce the problem of modified cooling water intakes and an acoustic method to deter fish to approach the sockets. Green groups are afraid proposed Sizewell C plant in Suffolk on the east coast will kill another 28.5m fish per year.

Using figures taken directly from EDF’s own planning documents, opponents of the Suffolk plant calculate that 560 million fish will be slaughtered within 20 years by being sucked into its cooling systems. They say the fish will be unable to avoid the pipes, which absorb 131 cubic meters of seawater every second.

Peter Wilkinson, President of Together against Sizewell C, said: “Even this staggering figure hides a grim truth. It only represents a percentage of the global impact on the marine environment inflicted by nuclear energy.

Corporate impunity

“Unknown millions of eggs, marine crustaceans, larvae and post-larval stages of fry, as well as other marine biota, are carried away [dragged] through the cooling systems of the nuclear power plant every year, increasing the number of people affected [caught] on the mesh of cooling catches and the decimation of fish stocks. “

Among the many species that will be killed are several protected fish, including bass, Blackwater herring, eels and river lampreys, as well as fish that are subject to special conservation measures to allow depleted stocks. to replenish itself.

The existing nuclear power station on the Suffolk coast, Sizewell B, already kills 800,000 bars per year. The planned station should kill 2 m more. Someone fishing from Sizewell beach could be prosecuted for catching a single sea bass: EDF will be authorized to kill millions of people with impunity. A heavy fish toll seems inevitable.

Wilkinson added: “This carnage is global, inhuman and unacceptable and runs counter to the government’s so-called ‘green agenda’. We expect Cefas to condemn this level of impact.

Not many deaths

“This marine life will be sacrificed for the purpose of cooling a factory that is not needed to keep the lights on, which will do nothing to reduce global carbon emissions, which will be paid for out of the pockets of all UK taxpayers. and paying bills. customers, leaving future generations a lasting legacy of a depleted environment. Continued official silence on these issues will be a dereliction of duty and a national disgrace. “

In a statement to the Climate News Network, Cefas denied any conflict of interest, claiming to have been paid by EDF to give objective and rigorous scientific advice to ensure that the two new stations are environmentally sustainable. He advised, where possible, how to reduce fish mortality.

“Where impacts do occur, such as fish mortality on power plant intake screens, we weigh them against other sources of mortality… and the ability of the population to bear such losses. Relative to the natural size of the population, relatively few fish will be affected. . . », Indicates the press release.

Cefas did not want to say how much it was paid by EDF, claiming that its fees represented less than 10% of its annual income and that it was therefore not obliged to do so. He added: “There is no scientific evidence that the proposed new nuclear developments will result in large-scale destruction of marine life or impact protected species.” –

Paul Brown, founding editor of Climate News Network, is a former environmental correspondent for The Guardian newspaper and still writes columns for the newspaper.

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