Letter to the Editor: Huge water intakes of nuclear plants

DEAR News Of The Area,

NUCLEAR power is a very thirsty power source, much more so than conventional fossil fuel plants.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (July 2013) estimates that a nuclear reactor, using a once-through cooling system, requires 25,000 to 60,000 gallons of water per MWh to generate steam and cool the reactor core (113,650 to 272,760 litres per MWh).

Thus, an average 1,000 MWe reactor requires 113.6 million to 272.7 million litres of water per hour.

The plant cooling system extracts this huge volume of water from nearby rivers, lakes or the ocean, then transfers excess heat from the reactor core into the water, which discharges back into the environment.

Reactors only use one third of the heat generated by nuclear fission: two thirds is unused, and must be constantly removed from the core by the cooling system.

Water discharged from nuclear plants is very hot and may be damaging to algae, plankton and other marine life in rivers, lakes and oceans.

When a nuclear plant draws in water, there is also a risk that fish, water birds, turtles and other marine life will get caught in the cooling system canals and intake pipes.

Studies of coastal nuclear plants have found that millions of fish may be killed each year by a single nuclear plant.

Is this what Mr Dutton has planned for Lake Macquarie or the Hunter River?

Kenneth HIGGS,
Raymond Terrace.

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