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Nuclear site flooding risk highlighted

UK nuclear sites are at risk of flooding due to rising sea levels caused by climate change, according to a full analysis compiled by Defra.

Out of 19 existing and planned nuclear sites in theUK, 12 are at risk of flooding or coastal erosion, the Guardian reported. Nine of these have been assessed by Defra as vulnerable now, with the others facing danger in the future.

The analysis, conducted by Defra’s flooding and coastal erosion team, as part of a major investigation into the impact of climate change on theUK, was published in part this January. Only summary numbers for impacts in 2080 were mentioned and no individual sites were named.

Following a FOI request, the full analysis shows that proposed stations Sizewall inSuffolkand Hartlepool inCountyDurhamhave a current high risk of flooding, as are reactors at Dungeness inKent.

Experts have stated that the main concern is inundation, causing nuclear waste leaks, but the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) maintained that risk would arise over a long period of time allowing preventative measures to be implemented.

An NDA spokesperson said: “Existing power stations are designed with flood protection measures to protect against a one-in-10,000-year flood event and planning requirements state that new nuclear plants are also designed to take account of climate change impacts.”

Flood risk is assessed at each nuclear power site at least every ten years.

A Defra spokesperson said: “TheUK’s nuclear sites are fundamentally safe with protection against current and future flood risk built in. The Climate Change Risk Assessment analyses possible outcomes by 2080 if no actions were taken to protect against the effects of climate change. This is clearly not the case - nuclear operators are already well aware of the risk of flooding, now and in the future, and are taking the action necessary to protect sites.”

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