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Cooling Water Intakes

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The Hinkley Point C (HPC) reactor is a third-generation (European/Evolutionary) pressurised water reactor design (EPR). There are only three in the world and all now have cooling pipework problems, with the Chinese one permanently closed down at present. Hinkley C will have a massive seawater cooling system that will damage and kill millions of fish every year.


The Severn Estuary is recognised as a key freshwater and marine site for a number of endangered fish species as well as the European Eel. In 2018 the latest survey of the quality of the various habitat environments marked them all as decreasing in quality and most as now "unfavourable" for the fish. It was noted that work should be done to improve the conditions. To protect the reactor's cooling water system the sea water will pass through a series of screens. These have a significant degree of mortality associated with them, which varies according to the species of biota. This mortality poses the greatest potential (non-nuclear) risk of impact to the environment from the operation of the power station.

Hinkley C will suck in 29,000 gallons of sea-water every second, heat it up by about 10°C and send it back into the estuary, wasting more energy into the environment than the electrical power it will generate. That heat will change the ecology of the estuary which is already warming due to climate change. Given concern about climate change, the waste heat should be used for commercial purposes on land, and not be dumped at sea.

In 2013 the Environment Agency (EA) granted Permit EPR/HP3228XT and a development Licence (Ref: L201300178/4), allowing certain water activities at HPC. Three mitigation measures were included. These would work together to reduce the environmental impact. The required mitigation obligations are:

1/. An Acoustic Fish Deterrent (AFD) system,
2/. Low Velocity Side Entry (LVSE) intake heads, and
3/. A Fish Recovery & Return (FRR) system.

EDF have now asked permission to omit the Acoustic Fish Deterrent (AFD) system that is required by their Licence.

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