Alex Carroll
Wildfires event Chair
Hazards Safety Case Engineer – HPC External Hazards, EDF Nuclear Services

We’re delighted to have you chair our Wildfires event this week, what are you looking forward to most, on the evening?

First and foremost, meeting all the delegates and speakers, with what already promises to be an impressive turnout in London, which I am certain will translate into great engagement and questions on the topic of wildfires.

We know EDF are a member of Hazards Forum and we’d like to know more about your professional life. Please can you give a little background into your current role?

As a hazards safety engineer, I am responsible for ensuring that external hazards – of both natural and human origin – are adequately covered by safety cases for the construction and operation of EDF’s nuclear power plants in the UK, with a focus on new build at sites like Hinkley Point C. Through our new EDF Nuclear Services hazards and climate change team, we are putting nuclear safety first by supporting and sharing experience between existing and new operations to ensure our sites are prepared and resilient for the long term.

Through your career, in what capacity has extreme weather, particularly wildfire impacted your work?

Extreme weather conditions and especially phenomena such as heatwaves and their consequences such as wildfire and drought have become a major area of study and engineering development for EDF, especially as we continue to experience the effects of climate change and plan the long-term future of our sites.

Wildfire is a hot topic across the globe, do you think certain nations have handled these natural disasters well? Are there any ways in which reactions to the devastating effects of Wildfires can be improved?

It is clear that many nations already experience regular wildfires and have an approach to infrastructure planning to attempts to limit their extent and extinguish them when they occur, including the use of aircraft and other specialist equipment. However, these arrangements are being tested to their limits and wildfires are now also occurring in nations that have little or no previous experience of their consequences and control. There is much experience to be shared and learning to be applied in both existing and new wildfire risk areas.

We see in the media the impact on people and infrastructure. What would you say the environmental impact is from Wildfires and how long does a devastated area take to recover?

Compared to the immediate events, there seems to be little media reporting on the long-term impact of wildfires, whether it be the immediate emissions of smoke and CO2, or the recovery of fire-damaged ecosystems, which are often left to their own devices but nevertheless serve as a reminder that similar zones could be affected next time.

At the end of our event we’ll be holding a panel discussion with all three speakers, what will be your burning question for the panel?

We have heard much about the increasing risk and occurrence of wildfire in the UK, which has surprised many due to the misconception that we have nothing but damp weather. How can regions communities new to wildfire risk learn from areas of the UK which were already at risk, and also better fight against deliberate fire in the same regions?

What do you think the takeaway will be for those attending this event?

That wildfire is not a new problem in the world and there is already a significant community of experience that can be applied to better management of this risk in areas that find themselves newly at risk.

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