The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) is concerned of a new application to dump over 780,000 tonnes of material from the Hinkley Point site into the Bristol Channel at a site close to Cardiff Bay – the Cardiff Deep Grounds.
The previous dumping of material led to a wide-scale campaign, which included the NFLA, leading to committee hearings and a frustrating debate in the Senedd, as it became clear that a wide range of Welsh Assembly Members were concerned over the dumping of sediment and material from the Hinkley site, which contains low levels of radiation. Despite much public concern, the dumping went ahead.
This new request from EDF Energy to Natural Resources Wales is for substantially more material to be dumped off the south Wales coast.
This time, Michael Evans, the Natural Resource Wales Head of Evidence, Knowledge and Advice has commented that ‘the first step of a long application process’ was to assess the sampling plan. He was quoted today in the BBC saying:
“The disposal activity in 2018 caused great public concern, so we intend to inform and engage with people about these plans over the next few months. We will only grant the licence if the company can demonstrate it complies with legal requirements and we’re confident the proposed activity will not harm people or the environment.” (1)
NFLA agrees with Mr Evans that the matter does cause great public concern, but we are not as confident as the regulator states that this is not harmful to the marine and land environment.
NFLA notes the media release issued yesterday from independent marine radioactivity consultant Tim Deere-Jones, who brought this issue to the public’s attention in the first place. His analysis of the recent reports of the ‘Radioactivity in Food and the Environment’ (RIFE) show a significant increase in radioactivity levels following the previous mud dredging at Hinkley Point.
In his analysis of data from the government funded RIFE reports for 2016, 2017 and 2018, Tim Deere-Jones notes that EDF’s dredging of underwater sediment and shoreline construction work at Hinkley Point have resulted in significantly increased radioactivity levels in the environment. The operations have disturbed radioactive particles from the Hinkley Point A and B nuclear power stations, which had been relatively contained within the sediments, resulting in them now being detected at far higher levels than before the dredging began.
RIFE measured radioactivity at seven locations along the Somerset coast. The results indicate a significant increase in the distribution of radioactive sediments from the Bridgwater Bay and River Parrett Estuary construction activity into the wider regional marine environment.
Tim Deere-Jones comments:
“Our Campaign urged the Welsh Government to conduct radioactivity measurements along the Welsh shorelines that were likely to be effected by the dumping of Hinkley sediment off Cardiff Bay before and after the dumping took place. The refusal of Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales to carry out the research advised by the Stop the Dump campaign has left coastal communities in a position of complete ignorance about the impacts of the dump. Although we have no Welsh coastal data, these results from the Somerset coast confirm our worst fears and predictions.” (2)
The NFLA plans to respond to this important consultation and it will seek to bring this attention to councillors at its next planned NFLA Welsh Forum meeting. As well as inviting independent consultants to this meeting, it will seek to inform members of the other environmental issues that the building of the proposed Hinkley Point C reactor may have as compiled by the Stop Hinkley group. (3)
NFLA Welsh Forum Chair, Councillor Ernie Galsworthy said:
“I am great concerned that EDF have asked for a new permit to dump many thousands of tonnes of material from the Hinkley Point site to the Cardiff Deep Grounds off the south Wales coast. NFLA has always believed the previous ‘Hinkley mud’ dumping could have a detrimental effect to the local environment and bring low levels of radiation back into the sea. The increased levels of radioactive contamination found off the Somerset coast appears to back up our concern, though there is a woeful lack of research undertaken in this area. NFLA Wales calls on NRW and the Welsh Government to hold a full and detailed analysis of EDF’s proposed actions, and this time to reject it should the legitimate concerns raised by environmental groups show there is an elevated risk to the public and wildlife.”
NFLA English Forum Chair, Councillor David Blackburn added:
“It beggars belief that EDF have asked for an application to dump 780,000 tonnes of material from the Hinkley Point site to the Cardiff Deep Grounds, given the huge amount of public controversy from the previous dumping exercise. Having heard recently from the Stop Hinkley group of the many environmental concerns, particularly to the marine environment, which could arise from the building of Hinkley Point C, I have real concerns over this proposed new action. It needs full and detailed independent scrutiny.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 00 44 (0)161 234 3244.
Notes for Editors:
(1) BBC News, 5th February 2020 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-51375497
(2) Media release from Tim Deere-Jones, available from the NFLA Secretary on request.
(3) Stop Hinkley presentation to the NFLA joint seminar in Colchester, October 2019