The Chairs of the Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) Welsh and English Forums are amongst the co-signatories to a joint letter to the First Minister of the Welsh Government. The letter calls on the Government to appoint independent advisors to an expert panel considering the environmental consequences to an application by EDF Energy to dump dredged material from the Hinkley Point site to an offshore site close to Cardiff Bay – the Cardiff Deep Grounds.
The letter has been co-signed by 34 groups and prominent individuals, including Sir Jonathon Porritt, the NFLA, the Welsh Anti-Nuclear Alliance, Greenpeace UK, Friends of the Earth Nuclear Network, Stop Hinkley and the Low Level Radiation Campaign. (1)
The letter calls on the Welsh Government to take account of the Environment (Wales) Act 2016 and the Well Being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and carefully consider the EDF application that will dump a further dredged 600,000 tonnes of mud from the Severn Estuary, close to the Hinkley Point site in Somerset, to the Cardiff Deep Grounds.
The letter notes that some of the material that will be dredged could include the dispersal of low levels of radioactive substances, amidst concerns that they may be disturbed and moved over a wider area. The letter also encourages a greater level of coastal sampling and the establishment of an Expert Group to advise the Welsh Government on the materials and the planned dredging exercise.
The letter follows on from an earlier application from EDF Energy which saw 120,000 tonnes of dredged material being dumped into the Cardiff Grounds, despite a concerted campaign from concerned groups and debates in the Senedd. The dredging took place last year.
In late March NFLA submitted a detailed joint response to Natural Resource Wales to this second application outlining the need for a careful sampling of the material and raising concern over the environmental and health issues around dumping the dredged material into the sea. (2) This was put together by the independent marine radioactivity consultant Tim Deere-Jones, who is one of the independent experts nominated in the letter to be considered to be a part of the proposed Expert Group. There have been 151 responses to this consultation.
NFLA Steering Committee and English Forum Chair Councillor David Blackburn said:
“I am pleased to be a signatory to this joint letter to the First Minister Mark Drakeford calling for the Welsh Government to carefully assess the application by EDF Energy to dump such large amounts of dredged material from the Hinkley Point site into the Cardiff Grounds. NFLA argued that the first application should have been analysed much more carefully and so it is essential that this second application is done so. The local coastal communities deserve a thorough consideration of this application by a wide range of independent experts. I hope the Welsh Government can positively respond to these concerns from a wide range of environmental and community groups and eminent academics and set up an Expert Panel forthwith.”
NFLA Welsh Forum Chair Councillor Ernie Galsworthy added:
“The NFLA Welsh Forum and many Councils have been concerned with the material being dredged from around the Hinkley Point site and the plans to place it in the Cardiff Grounds for some time. We have made detailed representations to Natural Resource Wales, the Welsh Government and Senedd Assembly Members. Our view is that dumping such large amounts of this material into the sea is an environmental risk and we remain concerned that there is simply not enough environmental sampling taking place in the coastlines adjacent and close to nuclear sites. I welcome this joint letter and hope Mark Drakeford and others in the Welsh Government take on board our reasonable concerns.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 0161 234 3244.
Notes to Editors:
(1) The joint letter was issued to the Welsh Government in late May and is attached on the NFLA website.
(2) NFLA Radioactive Waste Policy Briefing 82, April 2020