Truth or fic­tion?

Will a cool­ing sys­tem at Hink­ley Point C dec­i­mate lo­cal fish pop­u­la­tions?

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YES, AC­CORD­ING TO CAL­CU­LA­TIONS by Pete Hen­der­son, senior re­search as­so­ciate at the Univer­sity of Ox­ford and a di­rec­tor of Pisces Con­ser­va­tion.

Hen­der­son bases his fig­ure on the num­ber of fish, prawns, crabs and mysids (shrimp-like crus­taceans) al­ready sucked into, and killed, in the Hink­ley B water cool­ing sys­tem ev­ery year. He adds that these are con­ser­va­tive es­ti­mates and the ac­tual num­ber is likely to be higher.

But the de­vel­oper of the new nuclear plant in North Som­er­set, EDF En­ergy, dis­agrees, say­ing the Gov­ern­ment’s own Cen­tre for En­vi­ron­ment, Fish­eries and Aqua­cul­ture Sci­ence has es­ti­mated the ac­tual fish kill rate to be about 6 mil­lion fish a year, or about 16,000 fish a day.

Hen­der­son says the rea­sons for the mas­sive dis­par­ity is that EDF is ig­nor­ing those much smaller and very abun­dant an­i­mals that will pass through the fil­ters.

Though the mesh size at Hink­ley C will be 5mm, com­pared with 10mm at Hink­ley B, many common species, in­clud­ing “in­shore go­b­ies, pipefish, young herring and sprat and young eels” will be caught and killed on this mesh. “This means the ac­tual num­ber of fish im­pinged on Hink­ley C will be far higher than they have es­ti­mated,” he says. James Fair

Hink­ley Point is lo­cated in Som­er­set, on the Sev­ern Es­tu­ary.

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