Nuclear plants kill billions of fish, says scientist

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Nuclear power plants in Britain kill billions of fish each year, according to a recent report by a scientist from Oxford University.

Peter Henderson, an environmental researcher, has compiled data that suggests that damage to Britain's marine fish stocks caused by coastal power plants using cooling systems that draw water from the sea is more severe than previously thought.

Seawater is pumped in to cool excess heat produced by the nuclear reactors, in the process of which large numbers of fish are sucked into the intake systems and killed.

Dr. Henderson raises concerns that not enough is understood of the impact on fish populations when large numbers of fish fry and eggs are killed this way by the cooling systems of coastal power plants (both nuclear and conventional).

The negative impact may be reverberate down the food chain when it is considered that the small fish, fish eggs and crustaceans killed forms an important part of the diet of larger fishes.

For example, the outfall pipes of the Dungeness nuclear power station at Romney Marsh, Kent (where Sprats, Sprattus sprattus, are known to form huge shoals) are rapidly clogged with dead fish (up to 250 million individuals in five hours, according to Dr. Henderson).

It has been calculated that the mortality of eggs and young of Sole (Solea solea) in the southern region of the North Sea is high that it equals 46 per cent of commercial fishing landings.

It has been similarly estimated that the number of Herring (Clupea harengus) killed this way off parts of the East Coast constitutes 50 per cent of commercial landings.