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Sizewell C: Scientists probing N-plant flood threat

PUBLISHED: 09:00 29 January 2013

Scientists are looking into the potential flood threat to the proposed Sizewell C nuclear power station

Scientists are looking into the potential flood threat to the proposed Sizewell C nuclear power station

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SCIENTISTS trying to predict possible flooding threats to the Sizewell C nuclear power station have created computer models of the adjacent coastline to assist in research.

Results from the use of the models will help EDF Energy engineers create a plant designed to withstand future storm surges and rising sea level. Work by scientists at the Lowestoft laboratories of the Government-owned Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), is being financed entirely by EDF which is planning to build a £6billion twin reactor nuclear power station at Sizewell. If plans are approved it will be constructed on a site north of the existing Sizewell B plant. Although parts of the Suffolk coast are eroding, as a result of storm surges and rising sea level, the Sizewell nuclear site is bordered by a strong shingle bank and both scientists and engineers are confident that, with additional defences, the new power station can be protected into the future.

According to Brian Robinson, director of the CEFAS research project, up to 70 staff have been involved in the work which also involves mapping of seabed habitats to try to ensure the C station has minimum impact on marine life. A CEFAS spokeswoman said: “Ensuring the station is secure against extreme natural events is an engineering design function that is EDF Energy’s responsibility. CEFAS’ role in this work, on the marine side, has been to supply predictions. These are based on the most up-to-date science for extreme seawater levels at Sizewell – due to storm surges and associated waves and to rising sea levels due to climate change. We have constructed computer models of the Sizewell Bay area to test the impact of possible future coastal changes due to storms and what that might mean to coastal erosion and to flooding risks at the site.”

Angela Piearce, EDF’s Sizewell C project chief, said engineering teams would use the results of the studies to develop an appropriate and effective design of the flood defences and coastal protection measures. “In developing these designs we know that we need to be sensitive to the coastal landscape and comply with the current Shoreline Management Plan,” she said. “Our approach is to consider flooding from all possible sources.” EDF has to demonstrate to the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency that the Sizewell C design incorporates adequate coastal protection and flood defence measures.

A public meeting is being held at Snape Maltings at 4pm tomorrow to discuss the impact Sizewell C could have on the coastline. To attend, contact 01728 833891 or nicola.corbett@edf-energy.com.

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