Invasions of jellyfish have proved adept at shutting down power plants in recent years. But an early warning tool is now in development to alert power stations to incoming swarms which block the cooling water intakes of coastal plants. EDF’s Torness nuclear power plant in Scotland was closed for a week in 2011 after a mass of moon jellyfish invaded and the company is now working with researchers from the University of Bristol to tackle the problem. Jellyfish swarms have also closed nuclear and coal power plants in Sweden, the US and Japan in recent years, and the new forecast tool is being designed to work in all oceans. Israeli power stations have also had jellyfish problems, while the Philippines suffered a massive blackout in 1999 after 50 truck loads of jellyfish had to be removed, and a US nuclear-powered warship, the USS Ronald Reagan, was incapacitated when visiting Australia in 2006. Using data from recent invasions, the researchers will backtrack to identify the hotspots where the blooms are likely to have developed and where monitoring should be put in place to spot them early. EDF is already researching whether satellite imaging or drones could be used as lookouts. The 18-month project will build on work developed to study the dispersal of coral larvae and has £160,000 of government funding from the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council. It could also be adapted to analyse flows of seaweed, which closed the Torness nuclear plant in 2013.
Guardian 13th Oct 2016 read more »