14 Nov 2010

Oldbury flood work: reminder about why new nuke is crazy plan

The Environment Agency has completed £35,000 worth of flood defence work along the River Severn. The agency has repaired more than a mile of tidal flood bank near Oldbury Nuclear Power Station, which protects an area of low lying land containing approximately 100 properties. See Gloucestershire Gazette 12th Nov 2010.

Photo: Oldbury nuke viewed with my camera from top of Ash Lane, Randwick

This should be a reminder about why we should not be considering a new nuke on this site - see press release from two years ago here - as I said then: "Nirex, Britain’s nuclear waste management agency, has said Oldbury is at “high risk of flooding". Climate change can only add to future problems."

Nirex reported in its summary of ‘Climate and Landscape Change’ that seven out of eleven nuclear reactor sites at that time were not viewed as fit for new nuclear reactors or nuclear waste sites. Four will be vulnerable to flooding and three others vulnerable to coastal erosion. Berkeley (which has since been ruled out) and Oldbury are cited as having a “high risk of flooding”, while Hinkley is at risk of “flooding and erosion”.

On top of this the Government has withdrawn funding from flood defences. Does any of this make sense?

Over the next 5 years, there will be £137m less each year to spend on combating flooding than was committed by Labour - which was already less than that seen necessary by the EA.
Indeed they asked the last Government for £1 billion a year to fight flooding. They gave only £800 million a year. All this will increase flooding risks to communities, particularly here in Gloucestershire (see our comment to press here). A quarter of homes in the UK are at risk of flooding and this could mean that people’s insurance premiums go up.

Even insurer, AXA, has asked the government to clarify its flood defence strategy. AXA claim that it is far from clear where the money will come from to implement the Flood and Water Management Act which passed into law earlier this year. With the effects of climate change and more severe weather conditions, flooding will become more of a problem, not less. The government needs to spend now so that it is not spending later when emergencies happen.

Anyhow all this just should surely confirm to any sane person that a new nuke on this site is crazy. The flood threat issue just seems to be ignored? I would welcome an answer from Oldbury about how they can go ahead? Does it mean we just dismiss those climate change forecasts and sea level rise threats? What world are we leaving for the next generation?


Charlie said...

Perhaps you need to do a little more research on how this problem will be addressed. Raising bed level (between 3 and 9 cu million tons) to cater for the one in ten thousand years flood event. Nuclear has to be the way forward if we are to run our country in the 21st century unpalettable as it is to some. A couple of extra windmills on Stinchcombe Hill sure aint the answer!

Anonymous said...

Million of tonnes of rubble to secure the site for how long? We have no idea how climate change will impact on flooding - and nuclear will not be ready in time to tackle climate change - just look at the Independent today.

Andy said...

I liked this letter from Andy Stirling in The gUardian: Am I alone in noting that UK civil nuclear infrastructures are uniquely implicated in all four "tier one" threats identified in the recent defence white paper? Objectively, this point is as obvious to nuclear proponents as sceptics. First, few "terrorism targets" are more iconic, vulnerable or potentially damaging than domestic nuclear facilities. Second, few targets for "cyber attack" present greater potential for harm than nuclear control systems. Third, few other "industrial accidents" present greater potential for catastrophic damage than a Chernobyl-style nuclear reactor core melt with containment breach. Fourth, the foremost emerging instance of a new global "military crisis" lies in the widely mooted response to Iranian development of nuclear power. It is curious that the white paper makes n! o mention of this. The conclusions are not automatic. But, since other low-carbon energy options exist that are also arguably preferable on other grounds, we might expect some pretty good reasons to outweigh these concerns. To simply ignore these issues would be truly indefensible.