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Speeding Sea Level Rise Threatens Nuclear Plants via EcoWatch

By Paul Brown

The latest science shows how the pace of sea level rise is speeding up, fueling fears that not only millions of homes will be under threat, but that vulnerable installations like docks and power plants will be overwhelmed by the waves.

New research using satellite data over a 30-year period shows that around the year 2000 sea level rise was 2mm a year, by 2010 it was 3mm and now it is at 4mm, with the pace of change still increasing.

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The report coincides with a European Environment Agency (EEA) study whose mapsshow large areas of the shorelines of countries with coastlines on the North Sea will go under water unless heavily defended against sea level rise.

Based on the maps, newspapers like The Guardian in London have predicted that more than half of one key UK east coast provincial port — Hull — will be swamped. Ironically, Hull is the base for making giant wind turbine blades for use in the North Sea.

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The agency’s report says estimates of sea level rise by 2100 vary, with an upper limit of one meter generally accepted, but up to 2.5 meters predicted by some scientists. The latest research by Danish scientists suggests judiciously that with the speed of sea level rise continuing to accelerate, it is impossible to be sure.

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“But it’s not just the height of the rise in sea level that is important for the protection of nuclear facilities, it’s also the likely increase in storm surges. An increase in sea level of 50cm would mean the storm that used to come every thousand years will now come every 100 years. If you increase that to a meter, then that millennial storm is likely to come once a decade.

“Bearing in mind that there will probably be nuclear waste on the Hinkley Point C site[home to the new twin reactors being built by EDF in the West of England] until at least 2150, the question neither the Office of Nuclear Regulation nor EDF seem to be asking is whether further flood protection measures can be put in place fast enough to deal with unexpected and unpredicted storm surges.”

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