Many nuclear facilities like nuclear power stations and the cooling ponds and recycling plants of used nuclear fuel have been constructed on coastal areas. When nuclear facilities are situated near the sea, sea water can provide for much of the cooling required by the plants. This reduces the consumption of freshwater. However, the construction of nuclear facilities on coastal zones also exposes them to storm surges and tsunamis.
It is now more or less generally accepted that much of the extra heat remaining on our planet because of the atmosphere’s increasing greenhouse gas concentrations will be channelled into more powerful storms. On the Saffir-Simpson scale a category 5 hurricane is defined as a storm with wind speeds exceeding 249 kilometres per hour and strong enough to rise the sea level (temporarily) by at least 5.5 metres. In bays and fjords the temporary rise of sea level can be much more, especially if there are rivers that are flooding because of the heavy rains. Such hurricane storm surges are produced by the combined effect of two different factors: the strong winds push the surface water forward and against the shores, and the low-pressure area inside the storm adds to the height of the surge. The first factor is the more significant one.