Radioactivity and warming seas could make the seas near the proposed Hinkley Point nuclear power station more dangerous for marine creatures, a Plymouth scientist warns. EDF, which will build the Somerset power station if Theresa May, the Prime Minister, gives the green light, already has an Environment Agency permit to release water containing tritium into the seawater. Tritium is a radioactive form of hydrogen, found naturally in small doses, and at much higher levels in nuclear power stations’ cooling water. These so-called radionuclides are atoms which have excess nuclear energy, making them unstable. They break down into more stable elements, releasing energy that in high doses is potentially harmful to living things. A combination of global warming and heat from the power station could magnify the harm done by radioactivity in the water around a nuclear plant, Professor Awadhesh Jha from Plymouth University said. Lab experiments, led by Prof Jha, showed that the effects of even low doses of tritium on marine mussels (Mytilus galloprovincialis), increased as the water temperature rose from 15C to 25C. The radiation damaged DNA – the genetic material – in the mussels’ cells and could lead to mutations, cancers and other diseases.”In common with other nuclear power plants around the world, the operating authorities of Hinkley C need to look at the potential impact of radionuclide discharges either alone or in combination with thermal stress in the marine environment,” Prof Jha said.
Plymouth Herald 25th Aug 2016 read more »