The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) welcomes the decision by EDF Energy, presumably with the support of Natural Resources Wales, to postpone the start of dumping thousands of tonnes of dredged sediment from the proposed Hinkley Point C site to a marine dump site a few miles off the South Wales coastline (the ‘Cardiff Deep Grounds’).
The ‘Hinkley mud’ issue, as it has become known, has seen huge petitions submitted to the Senedd, a consideration by its Petitions Committee, and a full debate in the Main Chamber. Despite calls from campaigning groups to halt the dumping of the material until further tests of its content is made, both the regulator and the Welsh Government have been supportive of the application, claiming it to be safe to the local marine environment.
NFLA have taken a keen interest in the issue and have previously asked independent marine radioactivity consultant Tim Deere-Jones to provide an assessment on the risks and concerns over the material that is proposed to be dumped. (1) Tim Deere-Jones has also spoken to NFLA members and other campaigning groups at recent meetings, and will speak further on this matter at the NFLA Welsh Forum seminar taking place in Cardiff County Hall on the 28th September. (2)
NFLA has asked Tim Deere-Jones for his assessment of the decision to postpone the dumping, which was due to begin later this week, but will now not take place until next month at the earliest.
Tim Deere-Jones makes the following observations to the NFLA:
- The Senedd Petition Committee hearings of evidence, in response to the public petition to postpone the dump and initiate a full Welsh Environmental Impact Assessment on the proposal, was cut short by the Welsh Government, in Tim Deere-Jones’ view because EDF needed to know what the final decision would be quickly as there were time pressures in completing the dredge and to dump the material this summer.
- As a result the Petition’s Committee (as explained by the Committee chairman during the May Plenary Debate) were forced to cut short their deliberations and encouraged to produce a report without sufficient time to deliberate on the evidence and generate substantive conclusions and recommendations on the way forward.
- Thus, when the issue was debated in the Senedd no conclusions or recommendations were put forward to be voted on by AMs. The whole exercise was also nullified by the decision to abruptly call an end to Senedd Petition Committee deliberations.
- No action to commence the dredging had been announced until last week, approximately 3 months after the Senedd debate and around 4 months after the order to terminate the Petition Committee proceedings had been given.
- The latest decision to postpone the dredge and dump until sometime in September further confirms that the termination of the Petition Committee proceedings was not necessary.
- These facts lend strong support to the concern expressed by many campaigning groups that the original decision to terminate the Petition Committee proceedings was founded on a desire to bring a swift end to the debate about the re-licencing of EDFs dump and to ensure that the Petition Committee had no opportunity to draw up substantive conclusions or recommendations that could be voted on by AMs at the Plenary.
NFLA call again on the Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales to reconsider the approvals previously given and fully take on board the high level of public unease there is in dumping such large amounts of sediment off the Welsh coast. A greater level of scientific testing of the material that is planned for dumping should be thoroughly made to consider its radioactive and other material content to ensure that it can be demonstrated to be fully ‘safe’ and not a long-term marine environmental hazard.
NFLA UK and Welsh Forum Co-Chair, Councillor Ernie Galsworthy said:
“NFLA welcomed the full consideration that was being made by the Senedd Petitions Committee to the decision to approve the dumping of very large amounts of sediment from the Hinkley Point site. It was disappointed that this process was not taken to a natural conclusion to allow Assembly Members to be given an informed series of conclusions. The decision to postpone the dumping for a month gives some time to reconsider this issue and to take account of the high level of public unease over it. NFLA calls on the regulator and the Welsh Government to urgently reconsider this decision while it can.”
Tim Deere-Jones adds:
“Campaigners like myself are deeply disappointed at the way this issue has been handled, through the National Assembly, by the Welsh Government. This is a government which has extolled the virtues of open government and transparency and yet, on the issue of radioactive mud dumping, it seems to me that it has behaved in the opposite manner. The dumping of such material off the coast of Wales needs to primarily consider public safety and cleanliness of the marine and land environment, rather than to the direct benefit of the nuclear industry.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 00 44 (0)161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(1) NFLA Radioactive Waste Policy Briefing 69, ‘Cardiff Bay and Hinkley Point C ‘radioactive’ mud’, October 2017,
(2) NFLA Welsh Forum / Steering Committee joint seminar on Welsh new nuclear issues, the suitability of small nuclear reactors and the alternatives to nuclear power, Cardiff County Hall, Friday 28th September 2018, 1pm – 3.30pm. A flyer will be placed on the NFLA website shortly.