The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) Welsh Forum welcome the work of a joint independent NGO and scientist campaign that calls for full openness, transparency and proper environmental monitoring around a second EDF Energy application to dump as much as 780,000 tonnes of sediment from the Hinkley Point site in Somerset to an area very close to Cardiff Bay.
The Geiger Bay campaign has been calling for full scrutiny of the EDF ‘Hinkley mud’ application, including a full discussion within the Senedd, as took place in 2018. Geiger Bay’s petition to the Senedd, launched in July, has already been signed by over 7,500 people calling on “the Welsh Government to invoke the Environment (Wales) Act 2016 in respect of uncertainties, and to ensure that a full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is carried out before any further sediment from Hinkley Point nuclear power station can be dumped at Cardiff Grounds.” (1) With the petition passing the 5,000 mark it can now be considered for a full debate in the Senedd.
NFLA has been involved and concerned in this issue since 2016, and has worked with the independent scientists and environmental groups who have raised legitimate concerns over the plans for this dredged material with the Welsh Government, through Welsh Councils and to Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and the Environment Agency. In April 2020, with Stop Hinkley and CND Cymru, it commissioned independent marine radioactivity consultant Tim Deere-Jones to produce a detailed response to a pre-consultation process on the EDF application.
Some of the main conclusions of that joint response included:
- Civil reactor sites like Hinkley Point have discharged “particles” of “enhanced” radioactive material into receiving marine environments over the course of their generating life. NRW should ensure that the proposed EDF sampling and analysis of Bridgwater Bay sediments must include a comprehensive analysis of ALL samples for the presence of these elevated radioactivity “particles”.
- The liquid effluent discharge records show that Hinkley A discharges of liquid effluent plutonium to the Bridgwater Bay receiving environment rose rapidly and peaked at an average of 10 times the magnitude of pre-production years.
- The submission argued that the IAEA assumptions on assumed pathways to which coastal populations could be exposed to low levels of radiation are overly simplistic and do not take account of the advance of empirical scientific evidence on pathways of exposure.
- The submission is concerned that NRW, EDF and CEFAS have a limited understanding of the activity of such material that is dredged into the Cardiff Deep Grounds.
- The submission consistently raised the issue of the lack of data on the behaviour and fate of radioactively contaminated sediments dumped at the Cardiff Grounds “dispersal” site and called for NRW to initiate appropriate research on that issue. Such research by NRW has not been undertaken.
- The submission called on NRW to initiate a radiological analysis study of the current (post first dump) baseline for the south Wales coasts and into the potential future radiological impact outcomes of the proposed 2021 Cardiff Grounds dump activity.
- The submission called on NRW and the Welsh Government to initiate a full and detailed Environmental Impact Assessment, preferably scoped by an independent panel of experts.
- The submission called on NRW should insist that the number of sample points within the identified dredge areas should be at least doubled.
NFLA welcome that the Welsh Government has established an expert panel to consider these matters, though it is disappointed that the nominations of independent scientists made by local environmental groups and the Geiger Bay campaign were not included in that group. It is keen to see the core findings of this panel as soon as is possible.
NFLA believes a full Environmental Impact Assessment is essential as to provide a definitive response over the safety of dumping such a large amount of dredged material from a large nuclear site into the Cardiff Deep Grounds. There is, and should be, wide cross-party support for wanting to know that such dredging is not impacting on human or animal health. The Well-Being of Future Generations Act demands a detailed consideration of this controversial application is made.
A full debate in the Senedd and a free vote of Senedd Members to allow an open discussion on this matter is imperative.
NFLA will be profiling this matter again at its upcoming NFLA Welsh Forum webinar on the 9th October. The webinar is also considering local low carbon energy solutions and the need for Welsh Councils to pass resolutions supporting the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. (3)
NFLA Welsh Forum Chair, Councillor Ernie Galsworthy said:
“I welcome that the Geiger Bay campaign group petition calling for an Environmental Impact Assessment of the EDF application to dump vast amounts of sediment close to Cardiff Bay has passed the threshold for a full Senedd debate. I call on others to sign the petition, including councillors, AMs and MPs of all political parties in Wales. The first EDF application created real and genuine concern across Wales and it was a disappointing decision, to say the least, that dredging was allowed then. This time the application should be considered much more carefully and, if all the facts are brought to light, then the right decision should be made. I believe that should be to reject the EDF application.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 00 44 (0)161 234 3244.
Notes for Editors:
(1) To support the petition to the Senedd go to https://petitions.senedd.wales/petitions/200157 – as of 2pm on the 3rd September it had 7,556 signatures. 5000 signatures is the minimum for calling for a full debate at the Senedd. ‘Geiger Bay’ is a non-partisan coalition of organisations, individuals, experts and scientists. Since 2018, the campaign has galvanised public and political opinion against the dumping of contaminated mud from Hinkley Point nuclear power station in Cardiff Bay. The designated site is Cardiff Grounds – 1.8 miles from the south Wales coast. The group highlights the lack of adequate testing: borehole samples taken in 2009 were too few with no toxicity testing, despite the protected marine species and designation as Special Area of Conservation. The group draws upon substantial scientific evidence that the dump poses a major danger to human health and marine life. The campaign also believe the dumping process contravenes international agreements on marine dumping such as OSPAR (The Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic).
(2) NFLA Radioactive Waste Briefing 82, April 2020
(3) NFLA Welsh Forum webinar will take place on the 9th October from 11am – 1pm.