Wylfa B, A Global Warming Flood Victim
There are many arguments for and against the proposed replacement reactor at Wylfa B on Anglesey.
But is it sensible to build a nuclear reactor on a site that could lost to the sea?
Here you can find a map of the projected sea level rise for the UK at this link.
This map is from the Hazard Research Centre at Benfield UCL.
It shows the projected change of the UK land area if the Arctic or The Western Antarctic ice sheet melts, which would produce a 7m rise in sea level.
Google maps flood map also shows the areas of submerged land in more detail, but is not accurate, as the terrain is generated by aerial radar surveys and buildings produce false contours.
The true extent of sea level rise can only really be seen by looking at the Ordnance Survey maps.
It seem that both Wylfa and Anglesey Aluminium would be under threat from a 6-10m rise in sea levels.
When this is likely to happen is a matter of debate as the current IPCC estimate is that sea levels will only rise by 0.2 - 0.4 m by 2100.
This assumes we manage to meet greenhouse gas targets, and so the 7 m rise might seem to be someway off.
However, if we fail to cut carbon emissions it might come sooner, and all the ice could melt leading to a 70m rise in sea levels.
In any case the current National Environment Research Council 1,000 year tidal flood risk map for the UK looks very similar to the 7m rise map.
If there is a risk of sea flooding:
Is it sensible to place a nuclear reactor or even a decommissioned reactor in sea water?
Will the sarcophaguses survive the 20,000 years necessary to render the contents safe?
How easy will it be to monitor for radiation and maintain those structures when they are submerged?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) say that the next 10 to 20 years are critical if we want to control global warming.
By the time Wylfa B becomes operational in 15-20 years time, it will be evident whether by 2080, when the decommissioning starts, whether the site will be flooded.
This uncertainty must be worrying for investors, as it will affect the lifespan of the reactor and the costs of decommissioning.
For this reason, I doubt Wylfa B will be built, at least until global warming is no longer a threat.
It is more likely that another site on higher ground would be of greater interest to potential nuclear investors.
We can still keep an eye on the ice caps and the sea levels though.
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