Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

UK Coastal Report Shows Major Flaw In Nuclear Plan

A report on the changes happening on Britain's coast and the likely effects of climate change has once again illuminated one of the flaws in the government's nuclear energy plans. The government approval for a new generation of reactors was officially announced last week - but the government have for a long time made it clear that they want the next wave of reactors to be sited at existing nuclear generating plants. Aside from fairly minor logistical concerns this appears to be largely for political reasons. (They gamble that resistance and unpopularity will be much less at existing facilities) In the UK this means largely coastal sites - some of them, like Dungeness, already requiring constant attention to ward off the encroaching seas.

The government sponsored Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership report, as reported by the BBC says "seas are becoming more violent, causing coastal erosion and a higher risk of flooding". Furthermore, "The increasing choppiness of coastal waters means that 17% of Britain's coastline is being eroded. England is feeling the impact most, with 30% of its coast affected, compared to 23% for Wales and 12% in Scotland."

"An increasing trend in extreme water levels has been observed," the report concludes, which is most likely to be caused by the rise in average sea level, and which brings an increased risk of flooding.

MCCIP expects rising sea levels and an increase in storm intensity to spread the extent of erosion in future.

Even in the short term this is likely to mean expensive and CO2 emitting activity is required to defend the power stations against the seas. As the sea levels rise (with the now wideley predicted melting, for example, of the Greenland and West Antarctic Ice Sheets) the situation may become untenable - and remember the decommissioning and making safe of nuclear sites can take up to a century to achieve at the moment. The potential for extreme weather events and tidal surges presents an even more alarming scenario.

As I have said before, we have now gone beyond "business as usual" and even beyond the point of desperate measures (which is what the nuclear option is - as well as ineffective, expensive and dangerous). We must think of survival and giving those of our species who do survive te coming events a fighting chance. The nuclear option looks more and more like it will severely degrade those survival chances.

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