My answer to How probable is it to occur a nuclear disaster such as the one in Chernobyl?
Answer by Desmond Last:
The risk factor of an environmental disaster that has the same and increased consequences of Chernobyl, is becoming greater as the negative effects of Climate Change increase.
20 years ago all our Governments were denying Climate Change. Now 197 countries have signed a non-mandatory agreement to reverse man-made climate change. Many of the worlds nuclear reactors were designed and built ‘Pre-Climate Change’.
Nuclear Power Stations need water – lots of it. Fresh water is a declining resource and sea water levels are rising. The forces being generated in storms are becoming unpredictable.
Both the links below detail the problems that rising sea levels are going to cause for Nuclear Power Stations. We cannot predicate the forces that will be exerted on nuclear Power Stations by the negative effects of Climate Change.
‘Extreme weather events pose a major threat to all power plants but particularly to nuclear plants, where they could disrupt the functioning of critical equipment and processes that are indispensable to safe operation including reactor vessels, cooling equipment, control instruments and backup generators’. World Energy Council June 201416
The Technology of the RBMK-type reactors used at Chernobyl was highlighted as a cause – the reactor overheated and caused chemical reactions. The reactor then ran out of control, triggering a hydrogen explosion and fire. Such a reactor would not be licensed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission nor by any of its western counterparts.
But the over-heating that caused the explosion could occur in other nuclear reactor designs. A disaster could occur because of increased water temperature, and damage caused to water pumping systems by tidal surge, wave heights and increased sea-levels.
The table below is from a U.K Government report that was referred to in the Guardian.
It clearly shows that proposed U.K Hinkley EDF Nuclear Power Station is at risk of major flooding. The Hinkley Plant is expected to be commissioned in 2023 and has a life of 60 years. The U.K Government’s table above show’s that there is a major flood risk in 2080. The U.K Government could not predict the force or scale of the floods in Cumbria last year. How accurate is the U.K Government’s modelling?
What will happen at Hinkley if a nuclear accident occurs at the same time as the sea-levels rise. Will the whole area become radioactive? The Hinkley Boiling Water Technology requires power from the grid. This may not be available if the whole area is flooded and subject to storm damage.
The Fukushima Nuclear disaster occurred on the 11 March 2011. In July 2014 massive amounts of water, about 360 tons per day, were still being pumped into the destroyed reactors to cool the molten fuel. What happens if the pumping systems have failed due to storm damage or lack of power?
Floods do not happen without a force to produce them. We do not have the predicative modelling that is able to say what the wind, tide and sea force will be when Hinkley is commissioned and for its 60 year life-cycle. Nor do we for any nuclear power station.
The water pumping systems that provide the water to cool the Nuclear Power Stations are designed to operate at x pressure. What happens when the pumping systems go outside their design parameters? What happens when a Nuclear Power Station is cut-off by flooding?
EDF who are the Contractor for the the U.K Hinkley nuclear power station had to upgrade existing French reactors, after safety concerns raised by the Fukushima accident in Japan.
This clearly illustrates that nuclear powder station designs are not able to take into account the forces that Climate change can produce.
We need a new system of risk assessment for all existing Nuclear Power Stations in the world – something I have been advocating to Governments with no response.
There are two types of Public Projects. The first is to benefit the people of the Country is is intended to for. But becoming increasingly more common, the other is a project whose sole purpose is to make money for those financing the project. Yes, projects must be viable, but not at the risk of Public Safety.
We should ensure that all future Public Projects are assessed using a system of Climate Change predictability that replicates our Planet. If not we will see a repeat of Chernobyl.
Note:In 2013, Spain generated more power from wind than from any other source, outpacing nuclear for the first time.