Friday, 28 February 2014

Heysham Vigil to highlight Government Nuclear Site Flood Risk (Climate Change) Assessment

Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant invaded by the sea. 

A public vigil is to be held at Heysham Nuclear Power station on Saturday, March 8th, from 12 noon until 1pm to mark the 3rd anniversary of the Fukishima nuclear disaster and to draw attention to government predictions about how climate change and associated sea level rises and storm surges could affect Heysham's nuclear power stations.

Local architect Mo Kelly will be taking levels to demonstrate how high sea levels may be in 2100. She will show how high a 5 metre storm surge would reach, making reference to the 18 metre high waves which recently overcame sea defences, damaging property and destroying railway lines on the south coast this winter.

Mo Kelly said, "When storms occurred this winter, we visited the power station, and were horrified to see that waves within Morecambe Bay were flooding the promenade that runs beside the 1.220m high flood defence wall on the perimeter of the power station.

"As responsible citizens, we must ask what will happen when sea levels rise, and there are storms, causing sea surges and waves that may breach or overcome the concrete flood defence wall ?"

According to the Government, as many as 12 of Britain's 19 civil nuclear sites are already at risk of flooding and coastal erosion because of climate change (Guardian, March 7th, 2012)

Nine of the sites,  including Heysham,  have been assessed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) as being vulnerable now, while others are in danger from rising sea levels and storms in the future.

Experts suggest the main concern is of inundation causing nuclear waste leaks, with David Crichton, a flood specialist and honorary professor at the Hazard Centre at University College London noting that sea level rise, especially in the south-east of England, will mean some of these sites will be under water within the century, making the safe decommissioning of hazardous nuclear material on the contaminated site extremely digfficult and expensive - if not impossible.

According to the Defra report  the sites include all of the eight proposed for new nuclear power stations (including Heysham) around the coast, as well as numerous radioactive waste stores, operating reactors and defunct nuclear facilities. Two of the sites for the new stations – Sizewell in Suffolk and Hartlepool in County Durham, where there are also operating reactors – are said to have a current high risk of flooding.

Closed and running reactors at Dungeness, Kent, are also classed as currently at high risk. Another of the sites at risk is Hinkley Point in Somerset, where the first of the new nuclear stations is planned and where there are reactors in operation and being decommissioned.

Many of the sites date back to the 1950s and 1960s, and are unlikely to be fully decommissioned for many decades. Seven of those containing radioactive waste stores are judged to be at some risk of flooding now, with a further three at risk of erosion by the 2080s.

People wishing to travel together from Lancaster to participate in the Heysham vigil are invited to meet at the Lancaster Friends Meeting House next door to Lancaster Train Station at 10am on 8 March,  for briefing and refreshments.

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