Will Hinkley Point C ‘Hoover out' the fish Ecology of the Severn Estuary?
Currently EDF is again wanting to make material change to their original Development Consent Order (DCO) application, submitted in 2013. It is reminding us of another damaging feature of this nuclear technology.
The HPC Pressurized water reactors, for safe continuous working, need vast amounts of cooling water for their steam power generation, over 132 cubic metres of water per second (2.5 billion gallons per day) from the Severn Estuary. The intake indiscriminately sucks in huge amounts of living creatures, ranging from marine mammals, crustaceans, fish, eggs and their larvae, most of which won't survive the journey through 3km of pipe work at high pressure flow rate to the condenser and the discharge back to the Estuary.
The Severn Estuary is a well known migration route for protected species such as Salmon and Eels and researchers at Swansea University working with local fisherman are realising the importance of the Severn Estuary as an important fish breeding ground for many different fish species. Hinkley A and B stations have already been having a damaging effect on local traditional fishing methods. Hinkley C will over 60 years seriously devastate the marine ecology.
Even with EDF's fish return system, fish with swim bladders sucked into the system and dragged along the tunnels will be damaged by the changing water pressure and probably die, others will suffer direct impact to their delicate fins as well as the damage as they hit the final mesh at force before being scooped with a rotating bucket system across to an outflow, fish recovery system.
EDF admit that over 90% of some species will not survive. Most of the eggs and larvae will pass through the mesh system and be exposed to the high temperatures and chemicals in the condenser and will be destroyed, thus killing also future generations.
In the original application EDF agreed with the Environment Agency to take measures to reduce the fish death rate, using the best available techniques (BAT). One of these was to use an Acoustic Fish Deterrent (AFD) sound system which deters marine life from entering the intake pipes. EDF is now applying to change their planning application to not use the AFD.
This deterrent is an experimental technology and has not been used in off shore tidal cooling systems anywhere in the world so it is evident that there was not careful consideration as to how this could be done practically, and economically, by EDF when they submitted their application and agreed to an AFD in order to receive their licence permit from the Environment Agency. What other parts of the DCO application have not been considered adequately?
Water cooled thermal power stations such as HPC are recorded to cause damage to fish stocks around the UK and elsewhere in the world. Environmental consultant Michael Cominetti wrote ‘Until this direct cooling system is changed (as it has been in the United States) we will continue to see hundreds of thousands or millions of fish killed each year.'
Do we want to sacrifice the unique life of our Severn Estuary to allow HPC leave us a legacy of nuclear waste in exchange?